Academics and Athletics - A BCS Comparison
There's been a lot of talk lately regarding which schools could be a possible fit for Big Ten expansion. Much of this centers around geography, athletic achievement and academics (particularly AAU membership).
I've created a spreadsheet that shows the rankings of all 66 BCS schools that are currently affiliated with a conference. This is broken down into Academic Rankings (as determined by US News & World Report) and Athletic Rankings (as determined by the final 2010-11 Directors Cup results). I realize that this is not exactly scientific but both ranking methods seem to be generally accepted.
Finally, I've taken the average for both categories and then took the aggregate to give a Final Result. I was a little surprised to see that the ACC won the academic title but the Big Ten was the overall champ. The SEC, Big 12 and Big East.......well, they have a little work to do.
A few things that stuck out to me:
1. All of the B1G schools are in the Top 80 except for Nebraska.
2. Mississippi schools are really hurting (academically and athletically)
3. The Big East should stick with schools in the Northeast Corridor. Academics drop off considerably when they move out of the East.
4. Stanford and Duke are pretty impressive academically. Northwestern and Vanderbilt could probably learn a thing or two from their model.
OK, I hope that this formats properly in translation.....
[Ed-M: Call me "translation" I reformatted the info to fit in our space but you can access the original here. Also, USN&WP notoriously under-ranks Big Ten schools.]:
Academics: US News & World Report.
Athletics: Directors' Cup
I averaged the two scores together for each of the big 10 schools.
Penn State: 30
Note how Michigan is on top.
I actually did this once on my own using the same resources and was absolutely stunned at how loaded the ACC is at the top. If we ever expand I'd like the B1G to make a run at UNC, BC, UVA, and ND just to make clear how important academics are to the conference.
I, of course, realize that this will never happen.
Snagging Syracuse from the Big East would be nice. So-so for football, great BB, and top 5 in Lax. It would open up recruiting for lax big time!
I agree on the ACC. I had no idea Wake Forest was ranked that high, and I'll bet quite a few people would be surprised to see "The U" outranking much of the Big Ten.
What's really crazy to me, though, is the Pac 10 distribution. There are a lot of pi$$-poor schools in that conference by the judgment of US News and World Report. A Portland friend of mine has long complained about Oregon and OSU (not *that* OSU). The rankings also support the idea that Arizona is a hick state in the aggregate.
Wake's a good school, but I would caution about reading too much into the USNWR rankings when it comes to smaller schools like Wake. They are not a member of the AAU, and their researching is somewhat limited. It is a good school with good academics, but their entire ungrad population is about the same size as the typical freshman class at UM.
I am surprised by Miami a bit, but I've known a couple of kids who went there and thought it was great. It's got a decent location (the actual area surrounding the campus isn't great, but it's Miami), and it apparently has been pushing to be more "academic" and not the place kids from the Northeast go if they want to party for 4 years and live near their grandparents (only somewhat joking - Tulane is apparently popular because it appears to NE's kids desire to be in mardi gras town). All that said, Miami is still not a big research school outside of oceanography and nature-related studies.
What really surprised me was Maryland basically being the same as Purdue. For some reason, that blows my mind because I always thought Terrapins were classless Duke-haters who couldn't enjoy success without setting their school on fire. Apparently, they are decent in the classroom.
As a Miami native, I just wanted to add to your comments on UMiami. The campus is actually in a very good and wealthy neighborhood (Coral Gables) in Miami. As far as academically, I would rank Miami under both Florida and FSU. I attended Miami for one year of law school and that only served to confirm my perception of Miami as a school for rich kids at a nice weather/party school.
You are correct in that they have been pushing to emphasize the academic side, but it is rarely the academic school of choice (even locally) for the top tier academic kids.
I'm not sure about the rest of it's academic departments, but Maryland has a top notch physics department with a ton of funding due to collaborations with NIST. That may be helping to increase their research dollars and thus their ranking.
This was always going to be the downside if Nebraska joined the B1G, but they are a middling academic program in any of the other conferences except for the aforementioned ACC. I always did think the B1G and ACC were the best academically of the BCS conferences, but this confirms that statistically pretty convincingly, although I throw the Big East in there for basketball as you add Notre Dame and Georgetown, etc.
On a side note, I think this is part of what makes the Big Ten-ACC challenge pretty unique in college basketball, so my question is, why don't we expand that to football? Both conferences have 12 teams and you'd see some pretty interesting matchups (I'd love to see Michigan play FSU, Nebraska vs. Miami, MSU vs. UNC in football, Maryland and PSU used to have a good rivalry). It's too bad the B1G is going to nine conference games for this reason, because having an inter-conference rivalry has worked well in basketball and the teams have a reason to play for the pride of their conference (at least that's what the commentators will say).
I noticed that there are some pretty highly-rated schools (Wake, BC, Miami) not in the AAU. Are these schools just not interested?
My guess (my diary and post below might illuminate this further) is that the research side isn't there. Obviously an extreme example, but think of Williams or Amherst; you'd have a tough time finding a better undergrad education than one of those schools, but that's because their focus is on undergraduate work (obviously, as they are liberal arts colleges) and not on finding grants and getting cited.
To give an idea of graduate work along with undergrad rankings, here is the complete ranking of academic research dollars spent between 2004-2008 (for BCS schools):
Interesting list, but where exactly are these dollar amounts coming from? I know last year, Michigan had over $1B in research spending (maybe you're taking out medical research spending, which is a very large chunk). Just curious for clarification on what exactly your numbers refer to. Thanks.
I would like to know the averages for each school over a five-year period, seeing as this was our worst Directors' Cup in some time and academic rankings vary year-to-year. I'm too lazy to do this. Any takers?
Where is ND in these rankings? Since they seem to be our #1 favorite team to want to add to the Big Ten.
Notre Dame was 19th in the Academics and 18th in Directors Cup. Very consistent!
This was a fairly simply exercise that just gives guidelines. Rankings are subject to change every year, although they typically don't shift that much (particularly academics).
Football is King and will trump everything else. However, good football schools (OSU, Florida, Texas, USC....) tend to be toward the top of the overall athletics rankings as well.
Expansion is driven by academics and football. Replacing Directors Cup standings with the average AP poll finish over the last twenty years would probably give you a better benchmark.
It would also help to include Notre Dame somehow.
I have no idea how far down the Forbes list of most valuable football brands goes down, but the best ranking would probably be a combination of my research data and football dollar value. Notre Dame and Nebraska fall low on the research end, but damn if they're not near the top in value to the athletic side of the conference. If the Big Ten had any plans of doing anything, you would need a fairly high ranking in both (and maybe weight it 80/20 to include basketball since I do believe that an elite basketball school would add some revenue).
I don't think that AP polls really have much to do with expansion. The Big Ten has been looking at schools like Rutgers, Missouri, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.....not a lot of AP history there. Nebraska obviously was a different story. The next B1G school (unless it's Notre Dame) probably won't be considered a football "powerhouse". It's more likely to be a geographic and academic fit (that brings a large TV market along for the ride).
The US News and World Report rankings are not respected at all in academic circles, certainly not by those in a position to consider conference expansion. They are more interested in a university's research profile given that conference members (together with the University of Chicago) comprise the CIC. Big Ten schools share a huge research fund through the CIC, collaborate on research and use joint purchasing power to lower costs. Research prowess is the main factor member schools would look to when considering a new addition. The US News and World Report ranking is a marketing gimmick.
I believe Nebraska was an AAU member when they were voted in to the conference but they lost it just after the effective date of admission. I also heard Texas was the main proponent of their expulsion. Nebraska's medical school is structured in a way that makes it a separate entity from the rest of the institution, which has a significant negative impact on its AAU standing. I'd never argue that it's a great academic school but its ouster from AAU is maybe a little flukey.
There was also a fair amount of arm-twisting to get that vote, if you can believe the Chronicle of Higher Education. And indignation afterward.
+1 for USNWR rankings bashing. They're basically a pissing contest ranking. Real academic rankings look at the quality of work being done, not just the amount.
Not all of us are big on "academics" when choosing our school. Sometimes we care about its proximity to the Max and its ranking as a wrestling school!
[Good job OP - nice breakdown]
THE USNWR "rakings" are widley dismissed by those who try to look at these things with some degree of scrutiny. The QS World methodology is more universally accepted, and their 2010/11 worldwide rakings of the best universities are as follows:
1 University of Cambridge United Kingdom L VH FC 100.00
2 Harvard University United States L VH FC 99.18
3 Yale University United States M VH FC 98.68
4 UCL (University College London) United Kingdom L VH FC 98.54
5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States M VH CO 98.19
6 University of Oxford United Kingdom L VH FC 98.16
7 Imperial College London United Kingdom L VH FC 97.78
8 University of Chicago United States M VH FC 97.52
9 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) United States S VH CO 96.46
10 Princeton University United States M VH CO 96.03
11 Columbia University United States L VH FC 95.99
12 University of Pennsylvania United States L VH FC 95.97
13 Stanford University United States L VH FC 93.62
14 Duke University United States L VH FC 92.29
15 University of Michigan United States XL VH FC 92.20
16 Cornell University United States L VH FC 90.44
17 Johns Hopkins University United States L VH FC 89.67
18 ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) Switzerland L VH FO 89.28
19 McGill University Canada L VH FC 89.25
20 Australian National University Australia M VH CO 88.58
For those keeping score at home, other Big Ten schools came in as follows:
Penn State #98
MSMoo at a distant #208...but they have a hell of a hospitality program.
One more things (don't stop me..I'm on a roll) regarding the US News and World Report college rankings:
In 1996 Stanford President Gerhard Casper wrote James Fallows, then editor-in-chief of the magazine, to voice his objections to the methodologies employed in the ratings. The portion of his letter that is of interest to UM is as follows:
" I am extremely skeptical that the quality of a university - any more than the quality of a magazine - can be measured statistically. However, even if it can, the producers of the U.S. News rankings remain far from discovering the method. Let me offer as prima facie evidence two great public universities: the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and the University of California-Berkeley. These clearly are among the very best universities in America - one could make a strong argument for either in the top half-dozen. Yet, in the last three years, the U.S. News formula has assigned them ranks that lead many readers to infer that they are second rate: Michigan 21-24-24, and Berkeley 23-26-27. "