Chat with Ivan Maisel
ESPN researchers Harold Shelton, Nick Loucks and Chris Fallica ranked college football programs based on their prestige formula. Maisel will finish off the list by unveiling the top five teams. On Monday we released teams 21-119, Tuesday had teams ranked 16-20, Wednesday showcased teams ranked 11-15, and Thursday unveiled teams ranked 6-10.
Send your questions now and join Maisel in The Show Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:27 PM)
Sorry gang. Small miscommunication with me. Ivan will be here shortly.
Ivan Maisel (2:29 PM)
Hi, sorry to keep you waiting.
James (Houston, TX)
Don't you think points should be awarded to heisman finalists--if you are going to give so many points to the winner--Also, if you are going to give 2 points for a team being #1 for a week--teams ranked in the top 5 should also receive a point.
Ivan Maisel (2:31 PM)
Woulda coulda shoulda. This is an inexact science, guys. I'm not sold on Heisman finalists. Ranking teams in the top five doesn't do much for me either.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Mr. Maisel: Which of the top 15 teams had the highest graduation rate?
Ivan Maisel (2:32 PM)
Graduation rate data doesn't go back very far, so it wouldn't be fair to use it. I like the idea, though.
Dave (ATL, Jawja)
Ivan, could the Dawgs be reminiscent of the Alabama team from this past year? Experienced lines on both sides of the ball and a veteran QB...just need to avoid injuries and we should be better, right?
Ivan Maisel (2:33 PM)
I can't think of a team hurt more by injuries. I agree that experience on both lines makes Georgia look really good. But I don't put Cox anywhere near the experience level of John Parker Wilson, though.
Ivan, do you agree with the system's placement of Notre Dame in lackluster fourth place? I mean, when we talk about prestige, people around the globe know Notre Dame football.
Ivan Maisel (2:36 PM)
That was a point I tried to address in the story. Notre Dame and USC are better known than Oklahoma. The Irish are hurt in these rankings because the whole Rockne Era isn't accounted for. But keep in mind that it has been 20 years since ND has won a national championship and there has been one Heisman winner in the last 44 years. So fourth as of now may be about right.
James Lynch (Anaheim, CA)
Florida State is ranked ahead of Nebraska for the decade of the '90's. I disagree since Nebraska won 3 National Titles and was ripped off by the referees in the '94 Orange Bowl or it would have been 4. Nebraska had 3 undefeated seasons and should have had 4. Florida State won only 1 legitimate national championship and had only 1 undefeated season. Also, in 1999, Nebraska should have played Florida State in the BCS title game but VA Tech was selected instead despite an extremely weak schedule. The 1995 Huskers was the greatest team in the history of college football. They dominated everyone including an undefeated Florida team by 38 points in the title game. I am tired of the bias against Nebraska. Their 5-year run from 1993-1997 was the most dominating in modern college football history when they were 60-3 (should have been 61-2 with a 38-game win streak).
Ivan Maisel (2:38 PM)
Florida State finished in the top five in every season and won two national championships (your disagreement with the Orange Bowl notwithstanding). I don't have a hard time defending that outcome.
Sam (Austin, TX)
I'm honestly really surprised that Michigan, as the winningest football team of all time is not higher on the list.
Ivan Maisel (2:39 PM)
Like ND, the Wolverines are hurt by the exclusion of everything prior to 1936.
Given that NCs and Heisman are always debatable to some degree, how would the ranking shift if only on field criteria were measured?
Ivan Maisel (2:41 PM)
Interesting question, but so much of college football is subjective. Bowl berths are subjective. We threw in consensus All-Americans and first-round draft picks, too. They probably would look different. But the whole notion of "prestige" is by definition subjective.
What surprised you most about this list?
Ivan Maisel (2:41 PM)
Oklahoma being No. 1, and then going through the totals at 10-year intervals dating to 1958, when Duke and Georgia Tech were in the top 10. I can't get over that.
John (South Bend)
I don't have much issue with the way the rankings come out, but my only question is how can it be an accurate assesment when conference championships are included in the formula? I would think that definitely hurt Notre Dame, but it would have to have hurt Miami and Penn State as well (as each were not in a conference until the last 10 years.
Ivan Maisel (2:43 PM)
In the podcast we posted on the rankings, Chris Fallica, our ESPN GameDay researcher who headed up this project, explained that independents received 10 points, same as conference champions, if they finished ahead of three of the big six conference champions in the final regular-season poll for that year.
Ivan, it seems odd that PSU is ranked behind both Miami and FSU. PSU has been more successful a lot longer than either of those schools. PSU has more all-time wins, more bowl wins, more undefeated seasons, a better bowl winning percentage, and more bowl wins from the sugar, rose, fiesta, cotton and orange bowls than either of those schools. It seems that PSUs poor seasons earlier this decade have unfairly cost the program in these prestige rankings. Your thoughts?
Ivan Maisel (2:45 PM)
Fallica said that he and his staff debated the idea of awarding points for undefeated seasons and in the end decided not to. But he could be swayed. My feeling is that undefeated seasons only began to loom large in the BCS era. But it's a judgment call.
why did you choose to start at 1936?
Ivan Maisel (2:46 PM)
That was the first year of the AP poll and the first year that the Heisman was awarded nationally (in 1935, the Heisman went to the best player east of the Mississippi).
Matt (Savannah, GA)
What surprises you about GT being in the top 10 back in the day? The Heisman Trophy is named after one of their head coaches, and they do have 4 titles if you go back before 1936. So, get over it.
Ivan Maisel (2:47 PM)
Little touchy there, aren't you, Matt?
Van Atkins, Pahrump, NV
Wow! As a USC grad, those results burst my buttons! After all the SEC hoopla and self-aggrandizing these past several years, it's sweet indeed to be ranked above ALL the SEC teams and behind- an even that only by a bit- only one other team. When I add our now proven dominance in the super-competitive BCS era, it's truly an astounding result. And, hey, we even own Oklahoma in our head-to-head series. I have to go now and get my head re-shrunk to normal size.
Ivan Maisel (2:49 PM)
Whatever we can do to help. I was surprised that USC is second, if only because the Trojans didn't regain their national power until the McKay era. But the points they accumalated in the 60s, 70s and in this decade carried them to No. 2.
Why didn't this research include Georgia Tech's split national title in 1990?
Ivan Maisel (2:50 PM)
Because Georgia Tech didn't win the AP poll. The Yellow Jackets won the coaches poll.
thomas (los angeles)
no sec teams in the top five. finally, an unbiased mathematical formula that proves what we on the west coast have known all along.
Ivan Maisel (2:50 PM)
SEC fans had that coming.
Pete Pasadena, CA
Ivan, there's a site called the college football data warehouse that ranks teams all-time using some of the same variables, but there are significant differences. E.g., it doesn't count # of heisman winners, but includes a strength of schedule factor (although doesn't explain how it's calculated). Were you aware of this data source and if so, can you explain why you think your ranking methodology is superior to theirs?
Ivan Maisel (2:52 PM)
I am aware of it and I don't know if Fallica and his researchers looked at it or not. I think the various awards and All-American teams, etc., speak to "prestige." That's the biggest reason to employ them.
Tom (River North)
Ivan, do you feel that NCAA sanctions should have done more damage to teams point totals? Oklahoma, Miami and Alabama have had their share of issues, and even though the NCAA hasn't done anything as of yet, so has USC (Reggie Bush anyone?).
Ivan Maisel (2:54 PM)
I thought that NCAA sanctions should have been more heavily weighted. But I didn't come up with the formula. Overall, I think the formula does a good job of touching all the bases, to mix metaphors.
Drew (Norman, OK)
For Carson in Atlanta: Georgia Tech's 1990 split title did count in the research. All titles in the AP and coaches/BCS polls counted.
Ivan Maisel (2:57 PM)
Ric Walden - Tulsa, Oklahoma
I would just like to thank you for writing the article explaining what Oklahoma football means to the State. I have lived in southern California where USC is a big deal, but the impact the Trojans have on the State of California or the Los Angeles area pales in comparison to the Sooners. You can actually feel an increased sense excitement when OU wins, and of course, a sense to depression statewide when they lose. This probably explains the fanaticism that accompanies OU football. When you criticise the Sooners, you are taking an unintentional shot at the citizens of the State. For the most part, the two are inseparably intertwined. Anyway, it probably does not make sense, but it is the way it is. Thanks again.
Ivan Maisel (2:58 PM)
Yeah, I thought President Boren's line that it affected the state more than the price of wheat, cattle and oil was dead-on.
Tom (New Haven)
Why don't teams that used to be in FBS get included. Yale has two Heisman trophy winners and is the second-winniest team of all-time (and the first to 800 wins). Don't we deserve to be in the rankings more than teams like FIU, who has only been in FBS for less than five years. Our accomplishments up to our 1982 demotion should get credit.
Ivan Maisel (2:59 PM)
Fair point. I'd be curious to see it, too.
John (Tallahassee, FL)
How about including something as a proxy for fan base? For example, stadium size, revenue of athletic department, etc.?
Ivan Maisel (3:00 PM)
Interesting idea, but beginning to stray from what happens on the field.
ric walden just described the way any fan feels. its like that in most areas. im from south bend, and when nd lost, my parents used to lock me in the basement.
Ivan Maisel (3:00 PM)
LOL. And a good point.
Mark (Saint Paul, MN)
Ivan, bit of trite question here but what would be your top five. Were you surprised by the results? As an ND alum I was surprised that we trailed OSU (OU and USC I could have guessed though). Can't really argue though given the transparent and fair accounting. I can think of a number of questions regarding my beloved ND (how much the relative lack of bowl games, the post-Holtz era, lack of conference titles, etc. hurt our standing) but instead I would like you address a certain point that has been nagging me. Did anyone on the staff find it as unusual as I did that the most prestigious team of all team didn't particularly deserve their national title given the team trailing them in the AP poll had the same record and had beaten them head-to-head. The Bobby Bowden sympathy vote with a bit of the old the-team-that-loses-first-is-most-worthy-by-default fallacy at work there it would seem.
Ivan Maisel (3:02 PM)
Anyone's personal top five would be even more subjective than including Heisman winners, bowl berths, etc. I like how our guys tried to determine the rankings quantitatvely.
Ivan Maisel (3:02 PM)
Thanks, everyone. Talk to you soon.
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