In college football, unlike most other sports across the nation, the weekly rankings matter a great deal. There is no NCAA Tournament (though thankfully we are moving to a four-team playoff soon) that allows the players to decide it all on the field, meaning a margin of one or two spots in a poll can be the deciding factor as to whether your team gets to play in a BCS bowl game. And so, fans, analysts, coaches and writers are constantly trying to determine which teams are overrated, and which teams are underrated. A great deal of the time, the pollsters are right on the money.
But not always. The most troubling fact of all? It’s often the same schools which are overestimated.
Proving that a program is overrated is rather difficult, as teams are ranked in different spots throughout each season, and it’s been 15 years since the BCS was adapted for college football’s postseason. Any one team can be overrated at any given time. But to say a program itself is overrated, you need to back it up with facts that show a pattern.
We ran through the AP Polls (we realize the BCS uses the Coaches Poll, this was done on purpose) since 1998 and came up with a system to determine which programs were consistently overrated between the Preseason Poll and the Final Poll after the bowl games.
The scoring is rather simple. If your school started the season ranked No. 1 and finished No. 14, it would lose 13 points. Since only 25 teams are ranked at any given time, all teams unranked were assumed as No. 26. So, if a given squad started the season ranked No. 3 and finished out of the poll, it would lose 23 points. The points for each school were added up and divided by 15 to obtain an average +/- per season. Would it be better if every team was ranked throughout the season and we had a cleaner set of numbers? Of course. But when you’re just looking for the top 12 most overrated programs in the BCS era, this method does the job.
WIthout further ado, here are the top 12 most overrated college football programs of the BCS era. The school ranked No. 1 won the distinction in a landslide.