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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Weekly Rankings

How the Conferences Rank, 1-12: Final

The rankings are in the books, for better or worse, so all that’s left is to tally the numbers. What follows is the F.B.S. conference breakdown in terms of average final re-ranking; included in this list are our four Independents, even if that quartet, by design, holds no conference affiliation. The listings include the average ranking, highest team ranking and numbers of teams in the final top 25 in parentheses. The SEC again rules the roost — even if the conference finally lost a B.C.S. National Championship Game, in a way — but the league was challenged all year for the title of deepest conference, top to bottom. One conference in particular made a strong case for being the best in college football.

1. SEC (40.3, 1, 5)
2. Big 12 (40.9, 3, 4)
3. Big Ten (49.3, 10, 4)
4. Pac-12 (55.2, 5, 3)
5. Big East (56.5, 17, 1)
6. Independents (59.3, 29, 0)
7. A.C.C. (64.3, 21, 3)
8. Mountain West (65.9, 4, 2)
9. Conference USA (73.1, 16, 2)
10. MAC (73.8, 24, 1)
11. WAC (77.7, 34, 0)
12. Sun Belt (93.6, 36, 0)

The SEC narrowly edges out the Big 12 for being the best in the F.B.S., at least according to this particular final re-ranking. The Pac-12 can stand with any league throw its top fourth, but the conference takes a steady decline on the back end. Now, compare the final conference rankings with the list from late October:

1. Big 12 (37.7, 6, 5)
2. SEC (39.7, 1, 5)
3. Big Ten (44.7, 8, 5)
4. A.C.C. (48.3, 5, 2)
5. Big East (51.0, 23, 1)
6. Pac-12 (54.6, 3, 4)
7. Independents (63.0, 42, 0)
8. Mountain West (68.1, 4, 1)
9. Conference USA (72.8, 18, 2)
10. MAC (82.9, 45, 0)
11. WAC (86.8, 49, 0)
12. Sun Belt (90.1, 59, 0)

So how did the Big 12 lost its grasp on the top spot? It’s fairly simple: as of late October, the league could tout three top-ranked teams — Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Kansas State — to match what the SEC was bringing to the table.

Oklahoma’s stumble, however, opened the door for the SEC to nudge ahead of the Big 12 by mere percentage points. But some things didn’t change: as in October, the four non-B.C.S. conference bring up the rear.

The MAC and WAC actually improved overall, even if their ranking on this list did not. The WAC’s overall score jumped nearly 10 points, from 86.8 to 77.7, thanks in part to a nice climb from Louisiana Tech. The MAC experienced a similar climb, largely due to the strong top third of Northern Illinois, Toledo, Temple and Ohio.

But it’s the SEC’s day — its year, actually — just as it’s the SEC’s week. Scary thought: the conference was not as strong as in the recent past. It was top-heavy, with Alabama, L.S.U. and Arkansas paving the way, but weak along the bottom. The SEC was still strong enough to edge past the Big 12 to be the nation’s strongest league.

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Comments

  1. Ryan says:

    It would be interesting to see where the conferences line up with the addition(/subtraction) of the teams that we know will be affected by conference realignment in the next few years: WVU/TCU to the Big 12, Texas A&M/Mizzou to the SEC, etc.

  2. Parker says:

    Hi Paul,

    If you account for the movement of Houston, Boise, TCU, West Virginia, Pitt, Syracuse, SMU, UCF, Hawaii, Fresno, Nevada, A&M, Missouri and San Diego St, here are the new conference averages:

    Big 12 = 36.8
    SEC = 39.6
    Big East = 48.0
    Big 10 = 49.3
    Pac 12 = 55.2
    ACC = 66.6
    C-USA = 81.4
    MWC = 89.4

    If you add Navy to the Big East, its average moves to 50.3.

    The C-USA/MWC alliance looks pretty weak.

    Parker

  3. Papa John says:

    If I recall correctly from my college stats class, averages are only useful if you have a normal distribution. I’d recommend that you use median instead and see what happens.

  4. Parker says:

    Hi Papa John

    Medians for the new league configurations:

    Big 12 = 17.5
    SEC = 36
    Big East = 48.5
    Big 10 = 50.5
    ACC = 55.5
    Pac 12 = 62

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