Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Quest: Fan Base & Pro Potential

As my quest continues to find a new favorite college football teams, here's a brief recap of what I've covered already:

Today I'm going to tackle two very different but very important facets of the college football experience - Fan Base and Pro Potential. Being part of Steeler Nation, we all know about the importance of feeling part of a greater fan base that spans the country. Obviously, teams will have their concentrations of fans in their geographic centers, but with the age of the internet and 24-hour sports networks, the fandom experience is now at the national level. In my book, there is no such thing as "too many fans." Even though I've gone on the record as stating I vehemently dislike bandwagon jumpers, I think the teams I have limited my search to are mostly outside of the "bandwagon" realm that mostly includes teams like Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, and The U. For the teams on my list, USC and Ohio State are probably the closest to "bandwagon" teams. I'm also going to take a look at the amount of NFL-caliber talent these schools have produced. Since I am a Steelers blogger, I'd like to be able to follow the guys I cheer for in college at the next level.

Fan Base
Level of Interest: Low

Say what you will about the New York Times and their editorial staff and what they publish in their paper, but the people they have running the blogs on their website do a bang-up job. Their college sports blog, The Quad, brings a great balance of statistical analysis and "eye-test" analysis. One of the articles they wrote in early September 2011 dealt with College Football fanbases and approximating their size based on television markets, google search data, the CommonCensus Sports Map Project and stadium attendance. As should be expected, the teams that had large geographic footprints tended to have larger fanbases. To determine the metric for Fan Base score, I used two components: total fans as estimated by The Quad article above and the numerical ranking of those fanbases. Why did I do this? Because if I had just awarded scores based on the total number, the top school (Ohio State with over 3.1 million fans) would have had about double the points of the 10th ranked school (Clemson with about 1.7 million fans). However, going by purely the rankings wouldn't have accurately depicted just how many more fans Ohio State has than everyone outside the top 10. By combining the two numbers I was able to give weight to both measures.

To determine a "score" for total number of fans, I divided the size of the fanbase by 3,167,263 (the size of Ohio St's fanbase). This gave me a 0-10 number for each school based on the size of their fanbase. For the ranking, I inverted their rank on a 1-120 scale to determine the size relative to all other D-1 programs. Then I divided that number by 12 to get a 0-10 number. The resulting two numbers were averaged for the final Fan Base score. The Top 10 were:

1. Ohio State - 10.0
2. Penn State - 9.1
3. Texas A&M - 8.0
4. Auburn - 7.8
5. Alabama - 7.7
6. Clemson - 7.4
7. Georgia Tech - 7.2
8. Wisconsin - 6.8
9. Virginia Tech - 6.6
10. Iowa - 6.4

Pro Potential
Level of Interest: Average

To determine the capacity of a program to produce NFL-caliber talent, I took a look at the NFL drafts from 2000 to 2011. For each of the 34 schools, I looked at the total number of players drafted and the number of players drafted in the first round. I utilized 3 components in my calculation for Pro Potential: Average Number of Drafted Players per Season, Average Number of First Round Picks per Season, and Percentage of Drafted Players Taken in the First Round. For Drafted Players per Season, I simply took the total number of drafted players and divided by 11, the number of drafts from 2000 to 2011. For First Round Picks per Season, I took the number of first round picks divided by 11, then to weight the number evenly, multiplied it by 10. Finally, I divided the number of players taken in the first round by the total number of players drafted and multiplied that number by 10 for the third component. Since no team had more than 40% of their players taken in the first round or averaged more than 6 players drafted per season, I totaled the three components and divided by two to give me a 0-10 final Pro Potential score. The Top 10 were:

1. USC - 10.0
2. Ohio St - 9.7
3. LSU - 7.1
4. Penn St - 6.4
5. Georgia - 5.9
6. Tennessee - 5.8
7. Virginia - 5.1
8. Oklahoma St - 4.6
9t. NC State - 4.4
9t. Auburn - 4.4

After incorporating these two aspects into the overall rankings and scaling them based on the Level of Interest multiplier, here is the new Top 25 Poll:

1Ohio St267.2
7Virginia Tech215.8
9South Carolina206.6
10Boise St202.1
14Georgia Tech188.4
17Michigan St183.1
18Boston College182.6
20Texas A&M174.4
21Penn St174.3
22North Carolina172.3
23Oklahoma St165.1

Dropped out: Wake Forest, Navy

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