I took the last five years of performance (final AP rankings), threw out Nebraska and Colorado, and found myself raising an eyebrow.
I'm using rankings because forced rankings against peers, however flawed, at least assigns a useful hierarchy.
- Since 2005, the Big 12-2 had a possible 50 slots of ranking potential and managed to fill 17 of them. That means 34% of the league, or 3.4 teams, were ranked on average per year.
- Texas was the only team to be ranked in each of the five years.
- The league has managed 7 Top 10 finishes over the last five years with Texas responsible for 4 of them. The other eleven teams contributed 3 (Missouri 1, Kansas 1, OU 1).
- Speaking of, Colorado (0) and Nebraska (2) managed two rankings over 10 combined ranking years, good for a 20% ranking potential. A drag on the league % had I included them, amusingly enough. But we should be cutting Nebraska checks, right Osborne?
- The league rocked in 2007/2008 while 2006 and 2009 were weak. 2005 was saved by a Longhorn national title in an otherwise weak league year.
- Four teams: Texas A&M, Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor, haven't managed a ranking over the last five years. They are the league's dregs. A&M should be humiliated by that peer group. S-E-C, indeed.
- Texas is the dominant power in the league, Oklahoma 2nd, Texas Tech a clear, surprising 3rd. Kansas and Missouri form the respectable middle class, though they bottled lightning in 2007. I'm not encouraged by 3 combined rankings in ten potential years between them, but I like Mizzou's direction. KU needs time.
- Oklahoma State is vastly overestimated in league perception and by the average college football fan. They've gotten big mileage out of good PR, athletes that can't read, exciting offense, impressive capital expenditures, and one good season.
Let's assign a comparator. How about the feeble, much maligned Pac 10 over the same period?
- Since 2005, 18 rankings in 50 slots of ranking potential. A 36% rating, or an average of 3.6 teams per year.
- Five teams ranked in the Top 10 with USC accounting for four of them.
- The Pac 10 has been a more consistent league than the Big 12. Smaller highs, less pronounced lows.
- USC is the bell cow and the Oregon schools are clearly #2 and #3, while UCLA, Washington, and Arizona State are underachievers. They do have historical records of achievement, however, particularly UCLA & Washington. The Big 12 dregs do not, save Texas A&M. And the Aggies are dysfunctional. It's easy to imagine U-Dub or UCLA reviving. Kansas State, not so much.
What about the Big 10?
- 19 slots in 55 ranking potential. 34.5%.
- 11 Top 10 finishes with Ohio State accounting for 5 of them, Penn St for 3.
- Largely consistent
- Traditional power Michigan down while league resurgent. If Michigan rights its ship, the Big 10 is your clear cut #2 behind the SEC. They may be anyway.
And, finally, the SEC:
- The SEC has 4 of the last 5 national champions defeating the notion squarely that a challenging conference schedule is prohibitive and squashes all national title dreams. No. It squashes the national title hopes of their 2nd and 3rd best teams.
BUT SCIPIO, TEXAS WOULD FOREVER HAVE ITS AMBITIONS THWARTED PLAYING IN A REAL LEAGUE! THESE ARE MY TALKING POINTS! I MUST KEEP SAYING THEM IRRESPECTIVE OF EVIDENCE.
- 24 rankings in 60 ranking potential slots. That's 40%. Best in college football.
- 12 Top 10 finishes. Best of the comparators.
- Their own dregs: Kentucky, South Carolina, Vandy, Miss State. Kentucky and S. Carolina are actually kind of dangerous and a much higher quality dreg than the typical league.
- Florida is the class of the league, followed closely by Bama, LSU.
- Tennessee has less national relevance than Oregon State or BYU and is slightly below our own Missouri in 5 year achievement. They're also the kind of school that would hire Lane Kiffin, which tells you a great deal about their loser mentality. Suck on it, Clay Travis.
There are a lot of conclusions one can draw from this, the old Big 12 being a bit overrated in the popular imagination is one of them. We have a lot of league beta and fans tend to remember our highs over our lows. The league may not have been much weakened by the departure of Nebraska and Colorado, but Nebraska at least offered potential. Hard to find the lower tier teams with big upside in this current league, isn't it?
Realignment, if anything, also laid bare the degree to which Texas creates value for the league, not only in revenue and television sets, but actual performance. Sadly, Texas can't play itself - every Longhorns ultimate dream.
I'll be following this up with qualitative assessments next-go-round. I'm interested in your thoughts.