Ranking College Football's Rosters for 2016

Where does your team rank in terms of talent heading in 2016?

The sky is blue, the Earth is round and when you have better players, you win more games.

 

Certainly, winning big in college football takes great coaching, enormous support staffs, state-of-the-art training facilities and plenty of luck. But whoever has the most talented roster, has a head start in the race for conference and national championships

 

Seven of the eight teams to have made the College Football Playoff thus far, ranked no lower than 14th in roster talent while five of the eight Playoff berths went to teams ranked in the top four nationally.

 

Alabama was No. 1 in both 2014 and '15, Florida State had the No. 2 roster in '14 and Ohio State was fourth in terms of overall talent that year. Oregon was the "least" talented team in the initial Playoff, checking in at No. 14 two years ago.

 

Last fall, Clemson ranked 11th nationally in raw talent, Oklahoma ranked 13th and the lone outlier, Michigan State, ranked 29th in talent (and we all saw what happened in the Cotton Bowl). Basically, if you're gambling, put your money on four of the top 15 teams below.

 

College Football Podcast: 2016 National Signing Day Recap



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Below are the national recruiting ranking averages for the Power 5 schools, Notre Dame and BYU over the last five classes according to 247Sports Team Composite rankings and each team's record over the last five seasons. Obviously, this doesn't take into account attrition but, over time, this should be considered relatively even across the conference.

 

Ranking College Football's Rosters in 2016:

 

  Team '16 '15 '14 '13 '12 Rank W/L Conf.
1. 1 1 1 1 1 1.0 62-7 35-5
2. 4 7 3 2 5 4.2 56-11 34-6
3. 2 3 4 11 3 4.6 58-10 34-6
4. 3 6 2 6 14 6.2 50-15 28-12
5. 7 5 8 12 8 8.0 50-17 30-10
6. 8 2 10 13 9 8.4 44-22 30-15
7. 9 8 6 10 11 8.8 38-27 17-23
8. 13 21 9 3 4 10.0 39-25 24-16
9. 11 10 16 17 2 11.2 36-28 25-20
10. 18 11 5 9 16 11.8 43-22 21-20
11. 15 13 11 5 18 12.4 47-18 --
12. 10 9 17 15 15 13.2 56-12 34-6
13. 12 12 18 7 19 13.6 43-24 28-17
14. 14 4 7 24 20 13.8 31-31 12-28
15. 5 37 20 4 6 14.4 41-23 24-16
16. 20 14 14 16 12 15.2 50-15 34-11
17. 21 26 12 14 10 16.6 35-27 21-19
18. 6 17 15 8 47 18.6 36-28 17-23
19. 28 16 21 19 13 19.4 57-11 38-7
20. 26 19 19 20 17 20.2 43-21 22-18
21. 16 24 13 51 7 22.2 54-14 36-9
22. 25 23 29 23 28 25.6 33-30 15-25
23. 31 18 35 25 22 26.2 41-24 19-21
24. 17 36 26 27 26 26.4 50-15 32-13
25. 29 27 37 18 23 26.8 38-28 23-22
26t. 22 22 25 35 33 27.4 54-14 32-8
26t. 19 15 24 33 46 27.4 37-26 22-18
28. 41 29 27 21 21 27.8 40-26 23-17
29. 24 30 36 22 30 28.4 43-24 25-15
30. 27 20 23 39 35 28.8 40-26 27-18
31. 35 28 31 28 43 33.0 39-26 24-16
32t. 44 39 28 30 32 34.6 45-20 29-16
32t. 23 42 43 36 29 34.6 45-19 29-16
34. 34 38 22 34 50 35.6 19-41 6-34
35. 39 35 38 31 36 35.8 36-28 20-23
36. 53 25 39 43 31 38.2 41-24 22-19
37. 45 33 42 46 27 38.6 33-30 17-28
38. 30 47 44 32 41 38.8 33-32 20-18
39t. 37 32 45 37 45 39.2 47-18 28-11
39t. 60 50 32 29 25 39.2 23-38 13-27
41. 38 34 54 40 34 40.0 24-38 13-32
42. 43 43 30 44 42 40.4 37-28 20-25
43. 32 40 33 38 65 41.6 49-19 29-11
44. 42 49 40 41 38 42.0 23-39 11-29
45. 54 46 46 26 48 44.0 31-32 13-27
46. 49 31 34 59 54 45.4 33-31 14-26
47. 36 45 67 47 37 46.4 37-26 20-25
48. 56 52 48 42 56 50.8 20-41 8-32
49. 74 56 53 50 24 51.4 36-28 16-22
50t. 51 54 47 52 55 51.8 36-27 18-22
50t. 46 61 63 45 44 51.8 26-36 15-30
52t. 46 60 59 58 40 52.6 39-26 23-17
52t. 55 41 55 54 58 52.6 25-37 15-30
54. 33 51 60 70 62 55.2 36-29 19-21
55. 59 44 56 76 52 57.4 36-30 22-18
56. 48 63 57 66 59 58.6 31-33 15-25
57. 52 66 58 60 67 60.6 19-42 10-35
58. 71 48 72 49 64 60.8 24-38 8-32
59. 66 58 50 73 61 61.6 26-36 13-25
60. 58 53 65 67 66 61.8 21-40 12-28
61. 73 55 49 61 75 62.6 44-21 30-15
62. 50 64 66 65 72 63.4 43-22 --
63. 69 71 74 68 39 64.2 14-48 5-40
64. 80 65 69 62 49 65.0 19-43 9-31
65. 89 74 51 48 81 68.6 10-50 2-43
66. 75 62 52 87 71 69.4 23-39 12-28

 

What We Learned:

 

He Who Has the Players

Just because your team has elite talent doesn’t make it a great team. But your team cannot be a great team without elite talent. And no one has better players than the SEC. Five of the top eight, nine of the top 20 and 11 of the top 25 rosters entering 2016 hail from the SEC. To put this into perspective, Mississippi State ranks 11th in the SEC and dead last in the SEC West in terms of talent but would rank third in the Big Ten, third in the Big 12, fourth in the ACC and fifth in the Pac-12. Conversely, Texas, the No. 1 Big 12 roster, would rank sixth in the SEC and USC, the No. 1 Pac-12 roster, would rank fourth in the SEC.  

 

Conf. Avg. Class Rank Top 25 '16 Top 100*
19.1 11 42
34.6 5 12
38.8 3 6
40.2 3 15
41.2 2 21

* - Notre Dame signed two top 100 recuits (and is the missing Top 25 roster), Houston signed one and one has yet to sign (Demetrious Robertson).

 

Top Overacheivers

 

Oregon is 57-11 over the last five years, trailing only Alabama and Florida State for wins over that span. However, the Ducks rank 19th overall in terms of talent. Stanford and Michigan State are tied for sixth nationally with 54-14 records over the last five years and both rank outside of the top 20 in terms of talent (21st and 26th respectively). Wisconsin (43rd), Louisville (39th), and Kansas State (61st) all rank in the top 20 nationally with least 44 wins over the last five years but rank on average no better than 39th in roster talent.

 

Rk Team W/L W/L Rk Avg. Class
19. 57-11 3rd 19.4
21. 54-14 6th 22.2
26. 54-14 6th 27.4
24. 50-15 11th 26.4
43. 49-19 12th 41.6
39. 47-18 14th 39.2
61. 44-21 18th 62.6
62. 43-22 22nd 63.4

 

Worst Underachievers

 

Florida, Auburn, Texas, Miami and Tennessee are five of the most underachieving programs over the last five years. What do they all have in common? They’ve all made coaching changes within the last three seasons. Ole Miss, Arkansas and Michigan all rank in the top 25 in terms of talent but rank outside of the top 25 in terms of wins. However, after coaching changes in the last four years, all four programs are surging into 2016 with momentum and talent. The same could be said for Florida and Tennessee as well.

 

Rk Team W/L W/L Rk Avg. Class
34. 19-41 64th 35.6
14. 31-31 51st 13.8
22. 33-30 47th 25.6
17. 35-27 44th 16.6
18. 36-28 40th 18.6
9. 36-28 40th 11.2
7. 38-27 33rd 8.8
8. 39-25 31st 10.0

 

College Football Podcast: 2016 Coaching Carousel



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Still don’t believe in Brian Kelly?

Since taking the job in December 2009, Kelly has elevated Notre Dame back to national prominence. How? Yes, great coaching, but also elite recruiting. He’s never had a class ranked worse than 18th nationally and has an average ranking of 12.4 (11th) heading into 2016. It’s how his team was able to sustain so many key injuries a year ago and still win 10 games. Only 12 teams have won more games over the last five years than Notre Dame’s 47. As long as Kelly is recruiting at this level, the Fighting Irish will be a national player every year.

 

How does the AAC stack up?

If you compare the Power 5 with the American Athletic Conference, only three teams register above ANY P5 teams in terms of talent this fall. South Florida has the most talented AAC roster with an average national recruiting ranking of 55.8 — which gives the Bulls the 55th-ranked roster — ahead of 11 Power 5 teams. Houston (64.2) and Cincinnati (64.4) rank ahead of three Power 5 teams with would be the 66th- and 67th-most talented rosters in the nation. Additionally, Boise State from the Mounteain West is ahead of just six Power 5 teams in terms of talent and would rank 61st overall (61.6).

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