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Is Auburn-Alabama The Best Tandem In College Football?

Today you are in for a good read. One of our loyal readers and frequent contributors, War Eagle Atlanta looks at the best tandems in college football. Is it Auburn/Alabama? Read on, the results are interesting...


By War Eagle Atlanta

Yes, exactly which state has the best one-two punch of all in the college football world out there?  Could it be the larger states, or maybe the states with the old guard of teams, or possibly a combination of the two?

This is the question that many have pondered, including myself, as I have asked the question in a post or two on many a blog.  It sounds like a question that just reeks of opinion and no fact, but it's not.  

It's entirely based on fact, and little did we know that the data needed was right under our fingertips the whole time.

Unfortunately, for states large and small, only the best two teams from a state are given consideration. The two school standard is the most common among state universities in the country. That obviously hurts large states like Florida, who could easily be represented by FSU, Miami, or Florida, or California, who could have USC, UCLA, and Cal.  

Also not represented well are one-horse states, those that primarily have only one dominant program, states like Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and Louisiana. I guess that’s the price for cornering the market on football glory in your backyard, wouldn’t you say?

Furthermore, only Bowl Subdivision teams (Division I-A  for my fellow Neolithic fans out there) are considered. Although we owe the Ivies a debt for bringing us into this pigskin world, they are no longer relevant in the modern world for major college football, so we’ve eliminated them from our calculations. (Yes, you CAN argue that they play ‘real’ football, and I’d probably agree with you, but we’ll have to take that up in another thread)

Take your pick. College football fans, upon discovering the blanket coverage of their beloved sport on the internet,easily find a rich abundance of stats and information available to them in a variety of formats.

Perhaps the most concise and easy-to-follow site is Many of us like to quote from the site, many more use it just for learning more about their favorite team or conference.
Glancing over the site, they tell you that the most popular stat accessed from their data, behind all-time coaching records, is something they call their "Rankings Index".  

It is a comprehensive analysis of all teams in college football history, and ranks them from top to bottom either ‘all-time’, last ‘quarter century’, or by the ‘decade’. There it is, for all to see—their rankings of the teams, compiled from data from four separate categories.  

These categories are: Winning percentage, Strength of Schedule percentage, National Championship points, and Big Four Bowl points (having played in the Rose, Orange, Sugar, and Fiesta bowls) Points are tallied from all four categories and the rankings are derived from the totals.

Does CFBDWH own the patent on winning college football indexing? No, they don’t, but I really like their format. You could take data from a hundred different categories, but still not have the jest of it as they do in their four-item format.

Yes, you could probably convince Jeff Sagarin to do one of his own (he may have, I dunno. I didn’t really bother to check...) but for the sake of my argument, these are the stats that we’re using.

And yes, I admit, I don’t know all the inner workings of the formula that CFBDWH uses. Three of the four are simple enough: All-Time Winning percentage, expressed as the percentage times 1000 for the point total, National championship points, expressed as a total of 50 points per NC, and Big Four bowl points, expressed as 15 or 20 points per bowl game. The only mystery is the Strength of Schedule points.  

I’ve sent them emails asking how they determine it, but I guess they don’t want to give it up. These things tend to be proprietary in nature. They probably don’t want any competition from anyone else—guys like me, perhaps.  

Or maybe they’re just lazy in answering emails. Maybe I should have told them I was from Track ‘Em Tigers. Hmmm... Anyway, guess we’ll just have to accept their value for SOS as being legitimate.

Okay, so it’s simple enough, right? Just get the totals for all the teams, combine them by states and you have your answers, right?  Uh...well, uh... No. Not quite.  

Do you remember what they used to tell you when you were young, "Never question authority?" Well, I didn’t listen. I did question it, and I still do. I’ve got a problem with how they award their national championships on CFBDWH and I can’t use their data.  Yeah, yeah. Anyone who knows me knows how Mythical National Championships are the burr under my saddle, and I just can’t leave well enough alone, especially when I have a point to make.

And I’ve made that point on Track'em Tigers before. Read the last comment on this thread. That is where I analyzed who was really embellishing all those lofty MNC claims and who was on the money. If you don’t want to read that thread, the Cliff’s Notes version of the NC claims that I respect is this:

  1. Only current Division 1-A teams.
  1. Only AP championships (1934, 1936-present) UP championships 1935, 1950-1957) UPI championships (1958-1995) USA Today/ESPN championships (1997-present) and BCS championships (1998-present) are counted. However, prior to 1950, when the AP and UP polls ran concurrently, I will accept a preponderance of the other selectors.
  1. No back-dated championships (anything before 1934)

Suffice it to say that my standard of MNC is much stricter than CFBDWH’s. They tend to accept what a lot of teams, especially the big ones, claim on their resume—which is totally bogus for a lot of them. Nevertheless, as much as I love to dwell on this subject, we simply must move on. Now on with the countdown!

What CFBDWH submits to you as the top 25 all-time Div 1-A football programs is this, with points rounded to the nearest whole number and site accepted MNCs.

Team   Total Points  MNCs  

  1. Notre Dame  2332   12
  1. Alabama  2314   11
  1. So. Cal  2242   10
  1. Michigan  2157   7
  1. Oklahoma  2046   7
  1. Texas   1956   4
  1. Ohio State  1950   5
  1. Nebraska  1935   5
  1. Tennessee  1813   4
  1. LSU   1810   3
  1. Georgia  1726   2
  1. Georgia Tech  1712   4
  1. Miami   1661   5
  1. Penn St.  1659   2
  1. Minnesota  1619   6
  1. Pittsburgh  1602   6
  1. Florida  1565   2
  1. Auburn  1529   1
  1. Illinois  1529   4
  1. Texas A+M  1521   2
  1. Washington  1491   1
  1. Florida St.  1466   2
  1. Arkansas  1458   1
  1. Michigan St.  1435   3
  1. UCLA   1433   1

Then here’s my revised list, showing actual number of MNCs, and the point revision after the deduction. Remember, every MNC is worth 50 points.

Team  MNCs  Real MNCs Revised points New Rank

  1. ND  12  8  2132   1
  1. Alabama 11  7  2064   3
  1. USC  10  7  2092   2
  1. Michigan 7  3  1957   5
  1. Oklahoma 7  7  2046   4
  1. Texas  4  4  1956   6
  1. OSU  5  5  1950   7
  1. Nebraska 5  5  1935   8
  1. Tennessee 4  2  1713   11
  1. LSU  3  3  1810   9
  1. Georgia 2  2  1726   10
  1. GA Tech 4  1  1562   16
  1. Miami  5  5  1661   12
  1. Penn St. 2  2  1659   13
  1. Minnesota 6  6  1619   14
  1. Pittsburgh 6  2  1402   23
  1. Florida 2  2  1565   15
  1. Auburn 1  1  1529   17
  1. Illinois 4  0  1329   32
  1. Texas A+M 2  1  1471   19  
  1. Washington 1  1  1491   18
  1. FSU  2  2  1466   20
  1. Arkansas 1  0  1408   22
  1. Mich St. 3  2  1385   24
  1. UCLA  1  1  1433   21

So there they are, with their revised rankings and point total. So all we do now is add up two teams from assorted states and we should have the winners. Keep in mind that one of the teams from certain states might not have been reflected in the original top 25 list, but I got them off the CFBDWH list. Those teams are reflected with an asterisk. Here are the top 10:

State Teams   Points  Comments

  1. AL Auburn, Alabama 3593  Small state gets it done!
  1. CA USC, UCLA  3525  Big state, no surprise
  1. TX UT, ATM  3427  No surprise here, either
  1. IN ND, Purdue*  3411  One hit wonder w/ ND
  1. MI UM, MSU  3342  Fine FB tradition
  1. GA UGA, GaTech 3288  Only two 1A schools there
  1. FL Miami, Florida 3226  Will only get better
  1. OK OU, OSU*  3105  Not bad considering the size
  1. PA PSU, Pitt  3061  Solid rust-belt tradition
  1. TN UT, Vandy*  2921  Oh, you forgot Vandy, huh?

So there it is: The top states in the union for all-time college football glory, in this man’s opinion. I’ve done my best to lay out the data and explain how I’ve interpreted it. Now it’s time to lay it on me.