Saturday, March 4, 2023

Published March 04, 2023 by with 1 comment

What Were the Most Dominant Dynasties in College Football?

It's hard to get a sense of how much Nick Saban's Alabama teams are dominating compared with Bobby Bowden's FSU ones.
To try to visualize it, I created a score to represent a program's momentum. The algorithm works like this for each season:
  • 1st place adds 6 pts
  • 2nd place adds 3 pts
  • 3rd place adds 2 pts
  • 4th place adds 1 pts
  • Lose one point if you finished outside the top-4 two years straight
  • Increment the points you lose by 1 for each year past two for the previous bullet
  • Reset points lost increment if you finish in the top-4
I used the AP poll for all rankings because it exists and is easily mineable for all years in this post. As an example, consider this table of score vs year and position:

The general idea is that you grow momentum by consistently finishing near the top, championships boost it by a lot, and you need sustained seasons outside the top to lose momentum. 

One interesting way to view this is geographically. In the plot below, each circle's size is proportional to the score of the team located at the center of the circle: 

You clearly see giant circles appear for famous dynasties like Bowden at Florida State and Saban at Alabama. Another interesting takeaway from this view is how much dominance has shifted to a small geographic area in the southeast and Ohio. 

Focusing in on top dynasties, here are those plotted over time:

Pretty cool. From this metric at least, Saban's current run at Alabama is historic.

Overall, I'm surprised at how non-dominant Nebraska and Penn State were. I viewed their reigns as similar to Miami's, and they aren't really near that level from this metric at least.


1 comment:

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