Top 25 “Prestige” Rankings

Nick Bennett
9 min readOct 9, 2020

For those being taken to the Top 25 Rankings immediately, please click here to view the updated “Project Hub” where you can view the overall background of the project.

I am featuring the Top 25 Total Score Rankings, along with how they rank in each of the Six Categories and how this year’s ranking compared to “last season” (using 2008–2017 statistics). We will start with number 25 –

25. Oregon

For a team that is known primarily for their unique uniform colors and design, the Ducks have made a significant impact on the field, with a decade that include a 75% Winning Percentage, Four Pac-12 Championships and a National Championship appearance (2011).

24. TCU

Texas Christian has built a very consistent program, especially since entering the Big 12 Conference in 2012. Winning over two-thirds of their games helps secure a solid on-field score, but Its Brand score is within the Top 10 overall, holding a 96% Stadium Capacity, 60 National Broadcast appearances and appearing Seven times in the Preseason Top 25.

23. Oklahoma State

Another Big 12 school. Another Top 10 Brand score. Both appearing on National Broadcasts 60 times, showing the benefit of the conference’s deal with ESPN and FOX Sports. The Cowboys have very similar statistics to the Horned Frogs, but slightly better Revenue and Conference Share scores put them in this position.

22. Arkansas

While the most recent on-field history says that the Razorbacks should not be anywhere close to a Top 25 list, this program shows the power of the SEC. The conference is just behind the Big Ten in Revenue Share and their fanbase is still willing to spend to watch and hope that their football team succeeds.

21. Washington

Washington is reaping revenue success from their growing fanbase, with the highest Revenue Score in the Pac-12, during a period that has included a College Football Playoff Appearance, Two Conference Championships and Three ‘New Year Six’ Bowl Appearances.

20. Wisconsin

With the benefits of the Big Ten’s Revenue Share and combined with the Ninth highest On-Field score in the country (75% Winning Percentage; Three Conference Championships), the Badgers continue to secure their place in the Top 20.

19. Nebraska

As demonstrated by Navigate Research’s Brand Equity measure and confirmed in my Revenue Score, Nebraska’s fanbase is one of the most devout in the country. In addition, being a part of the Big Ten’s leading Revenue Share will continue to increase this metric’s score when the years the Cornhuskers did not receive a full conference share are removed from the model.

18. Texas A&M

The Aggies are not only boosted by their move to the SEC in this decade (potentially an additional 18–22 points compared to staying in the Big 12), but also having the Fourth-largest Stadium Capacity and Head Coach Salary featured in the team’s Program Score puts them in the Top 10 of the metric.

17. Florida State

The issues with their recent head coaches notwithstanding, the Seminoles enjoyed a successful decade primarily under Jimbo Fisher with a National Championship, CFP Appearance and Five of their nine bowl appearances being in a New Year’s Six. Their brand remains a strong national draw for networks after appearing 57 times on television in the five years measured.

16. Penn State

Penn State has the second-largest stadium in college football and even with everything that happened earlier in the decade, Happy Valley still averaged almost 102,000 fans per games. Add in a Top 15 Revenue Score and the Nittany Lions are in a position to continue rising in future years as they have set themselves up as a Big Ten Contender.

15. Michigan State

With the Big Ten’s Revenue Share increasing, an On-Field Score consisting of a CFP Appearance and winning 70% of their games and a legacy that includes Six National Title claims have all come together to build the Spartans into a more than relevant program within this generation.

14. Iowa

The Hawkeyes are automatically thrust into Top 25 consideration thanks to the Big Ten’s Revenue Share, but they also have the second-highest Brand Score in the conference. Appearing on a National Broadcast 52 times over the last five years is also the second-most in the Big Ten.

13. Tennessee

This was my most notable surprise in my list, given the Volunteers have not been viable SEC contenders over the last decade. However, Rocky Top has earned the Third-highest Program Score through the highest Recruiting Expense average at over Two Million per year and still averaged over 95,000 Fans per Game in a stadium where only four others in college football can hold more fans.

12. Clemson

So how does the team with the highest Brand Score, the Third highest On-Field Score, Five CFP Appearances and Two National Championships end up not in the Top Ten? Well a Football Revenue score ranking third in the ACC will do that, but I expect this score to continue improving in the coming years.

11. Florida

The Gators have won the “Sunshine Showdown” within my overall score thanks to having the highest Conference Share score of the SEC. In such a competitive conference, the Gators remain relevant through a 98% Stadium Capacity filled, having the Seventh-most Social Followers in the country and sending Fourth-most players to the NFL over the decade

10. USC

The “Champion” of the Pac-12 is able to claim 11 National Championships and remains the networks’ favorite West Coast draw by appearing 11 more times on national television than the second-most in the conference (Washington — 46), even as they fall behind Oregon in On-Field Score.

9. Auburn

The Tigers have shown a spending power within the SEC and entire FBS division, with the Highest average Assistant Coach Salary Pool, Fifth-highest average spend in Recruiting Expenses and Seventh-highest Head Coach Salary average.

8. Georgia

Georgia’s recent on-field success is not what puts them so high on this list, although it has reached the Top 10 in this year’s metric. The biggest impact is from having the Fourth-highest Revenue Score and a rising Program Score, led by a 100% Stadium Capacity average, having 2.6 Social Followers and having the largest % of Overall Athletics Revenue coming from Football (73%) in FBS.

7. Texas

It appears Longhorns fans are willing to spend whatever the school wants to charge and with their Longhorn Network deal with ESPN, they have the Top Revenue Score, earning 24 more points than the #2 team in the category. While struggling to confirm the many times “Texas is Back” has been said in the last decade, it remains a network favorite with 54 National Broadcast appearances.

6. Notre Dame

There will be those fans that do not like Notre Dame being high on this list, but you cannot deny the numbers. Tied for second-most National Championships, 64 (i.e. all) of their games nationally broadcasted, and a 103% Stadium Capacity Filled figure. Add that to a 71% Winning Percentage and CFP Appearance, Notre Dame remains one of the most relevant programs in college football.

5. LSU

The current National Champions are likely to receive an increase next season when that season is counted, but the Tigers still enjoyed a decade where they have won 79% of their games and the second-most Top 25 Wins over the decade (41). They also have shown a willingness to spend on Top Assistants, with the Second-highest Assistant Coach Salary pool average (i.e. Dave Aranda’s $2.5 Million per year).

4. Oklahoma

The Sooners are the most consistent school within this list, appearing in the Top 12 of every category except for Conference Revenue Share and that is something out of their individual control. Broadcasted nationally 61 times (Fourth-most), holding a Capacity Filled average of 102% and winning the most Conference Championships over the last ten years (6), the Sooners do not appear likely to give up their place as the best in the Big 12 anytime soon.

3. Michigan

2. Ohio State

I decided to discuss these two schools together because it is only fitting that the battle between Ohio State and Michigan continues even on a list like this, with Michigan closing the gap by seven points in this year’s total.

Michigan has the second-most Revenue in FBS, averages over $350,000 more Recruiting Expenses spent per year than OSU and averaging over 110,000 Fans per game equaled a 103% Capacity Filled percentage.

Ohio State continues to dominate the On-Field category (87% Winning Percentage, Three CFP Appearances, 9 out of 10 Head-to-Head) and their Brand score is boosted by appearing on National Broadcasts 10 more times than Michigan over the decade.

A deeper rivalry post on this matchup would be exciting to dive into…

  1. Alabama

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory and shouldn’t be a surprise, but as a reference, the only category where the Crimson Tide is not at least in the Top Three is Conference Revenue Share because it is simply not in the Big Ten.

Overall, the SEC leads the Power 5 conferences with Eight Teams in this year’s Top 25, followed by the Big Ten and Big 12 respectively.

Power 5 Conference Comparisons

*Note that Notre Dame is not included under the ACC, as the years measured do not include the current 2020 season where the Fighting Irish are a full member of the conference.

For anyone interested in viewing the rankings for all 130 Teams, they can be be found by Clicking Here.

So, where does your team rank? Please feel free to leave comments, questions and overall thoughts!