How Big Is The Big Ten?

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on July 26th, 2012 at 7:33 PM




Inspired somewhat by the thread listing the official sizes of our own roster, I decided to embark on a little research and download every Big Ten roster and get some statistics on the size of the average Big Ten player by team.

Hopefully, the board finds this information entertaining, if nothing else. The intent here was to provide a little insight into how each teams stacks up with regards to size, and it may even speak to the general parameters of the Big Ten player. As I put together position-specific analysis, that might be more apparent.




I went to each team site and copied the roster into Excel, keeping names, positions, height and weight for the analysis. This first delve into the subject will address only height and weight for the entire roster, but I actually will produce some additional entries which will address offense and defensive by position and / or position group.

One interesting sidebar to this was a small analysis that I conducted earlier this afternoon based on a post that I made in a thread. I took the average sizes of the incoming freshmen and compared it to the average size of everyone in the same position on the Michigan roster. Those results are in Table 1 below.


Table 1 - Michigan Freshmen vs. Michigan Roster By Position

WR (Freshmen) 75 201
WR (Team) 73 191
TE (Freshmen) 75 254
TE (Team) 77 245
RB (Freshmen) 70 187
RB (Team) 70 198
FB (Freshman) 72 221
FB (Team) 73 224
OL (Freshmen) 78 291
OL (Team) 77 300
LB (Freshmen) 73 221
LB (Team) 74 225
DT (Freshmen) 76 303
DT (Team) 76 288
DE (Freshmen) 75 247
DE (Team) 75 243
DB (Freshmen) 74 184
DB (Team) 70 171




One of the most interesting things for me to come out of this – because I never really had thought about it before – was the relative lack of variation across teams for both height and weight. For example, in the Legends Division, Iowa and Minnesota average 74.2 inches, and Nebraska is the shortest at 73.8 inches. For weight in the Legends Division, Michigan State is the heaviest team on average at 240.6 pounds, and Northwestern is the lightest at 223.1 pounds. In the Leaders Division, Wisconsin is the tallest team and Indiana is the shortest, and Penn State is the heaviest whereas Indiana is the lightest, but in both cases, not by huge margins. 

Now, within rosters, it's somewhat different - maximum and minimum heights are over 12 inches apart in most cases, and everywhere, weight within rosters varies dramatically, but this is typically because of what coaches want and where. When I do some position-specific stuff, I will see if I can dive into variation across teams at the same position to gain insight into what teams look for specifically.


Table 2 - Legends Division Height Summary Statistics

HEIGHT Iowa Michigan MSU Minnesota Nebraska Northwestern
AVERAGE 74.2 73.9 74.1 74.2 73.8 73.9
MEDIAN 74.0 74.0 74.0 74.0 74.0 74.0
MODE 74.0 75.0 75.0 74.0 73.0 75.0
STANDARD DEV 2.4 2.8 2.5 2.5 2.4 2.6
VARIANCE 5.9 8.1 6.4 6.4 5.6 3.3
MAXIMUM 80.0 80.0 79.0 81.0 80.0 80.0
MINIMUM 68.0 66.0 68.0 68.0 67.0 68.0


Table 3 - Legends Division Weight Summary Statistics

WEIGHT Iowa Michigan MSU Minnesota Nebraska Northwestern
AVERAGE 229.8 227.8 240.6 232.7 231.6 223.1
MEDIAN 220.0 220.0 236.0 230.0 220.0 215.0
MODE 210.0 185.0 190.0 245.0 200.0 205.0
STANDARD DEV 38.0 44.0 44.4 39.3 42.7 42.4
VARIANCE 1446.3 1934.9 1973.6 1547.4 1819.9 1906.4
MAXIMUM 310.0 341.0 325.0 325.0 325.0 315.0
MINIMUM 160.0 164.0 170.0 165.0 155.0



Table 4 - Leaders Division Height Summary Statistics

HEIGHT Illinois Indiana Ohio Penn State Purdue Wisconsin
AVERAGE 74.2 73.6 74.1 73.8 74.2 74.3
MEDIAN 74.5 74.0 74.0 74.0 74.0 74.0
MODE 75.0 74.0 75.0 75.0 76.0 75.0
STANDARD DEV 2.5 2.3 2.3 2.6 2.7 2.6
VARIANCE 6.4 5.4 5.3 6.8 7.2 6.8
MAXIMUM 82.0 78.0 80.0 79.0 79.0 81.0
MINIMUM 68.0 67.0 69.0 68.0 69.0



Table 5 - Leaders Division Weight Summary Statistics

WEIGHT Illinois Indiana Ohio Penn State Purdue Wisconsin
AVERAGE 229.6 228.5 234.9 236.5 229.1 234.7
MEDIAN 217.5 220.0 230.0 233.0 220.0 220.0
MODE 200.0 208.0 225.0 199.0 225.0 190.0
STANDARD DEV 41.9 40.7 41.0 41.2 41.9 46.2
VARIANCE 1752.7 1655.0 1679.2 1696.5 1754.8 2132.1
MAXIMUM 325.0 315.0 317.0 347.0 324.0 343.0
MINIMUM 170.0 155.0 173.0 155.0 175.0 160.0

I have all the data break things down by position, but I wanted to share this high-level overview of Big Ten "size" with the blog. 



July 26th, 2012 at 7:55 PM ^

Very nice work!

But I must add this -- the sky is falling! -- we're tied with Northwestern for average height! :-)

I like "triangle_M's" comment -- the freshman are big boys.  But that's in keeping with Hoke's professed strategy of tough, physical football.

Now ... the real proof in the pudding (hmmm, pudding) is going to be how that size is utilized towards other statistics.  Wins, of course ... but it makes me wonder what other stats would show size utilized effectively towards the ultimate goal of victory.

The other thing I wish for -- and I don't know how to derive this -- is how to factor in other metrics such as speed and athleticism.  Big for big's sake is one thing; big coupled with speed, agility and athleticism is one way to describe ... Alabama defensive lineman.


July 26th, 2012 at 8:24 PM ^

Looking forward to the position group breakdown because I have a hard time believing that the average of all 100 guys on a team is a valid statistic.  Further, within each position group, it'd be interesting to focus on the two-deep rather than all players at that position -- some are being redshirted to gain mass, others are walk-ons that have little chance of seeing the field, etc.  However, then you'd run into a problem with the lack of data points -- your results may not be significant (except for OL/DL, perhaps).

Also, I'm guessing that for Michigan your "team" averages include the freshmen -- it'd be interesting to see the non-Freshmen average to highlight how much the Freshmen are deviating from the rest of the group.  Your FB numbers, most likely, contain 2 or 3 guys, one of which is a freshman, so Houma's stats largely affect the "Team" numbers.

Ron Utah

July 26th, 2012 at 8:29 PM ^

This is not a bash RR comment, just a statement of the obvious: we are still very much a roster in transition. This is not from a talent standpoint (well, that too) but rather a reflection of the change in philosophy back to pro style offense and defense. I am shocked that our roster is so light. We are smaller than indiana fergodsakes.
I hate to be a pessimist about this season, but from a roster standpoint--particularly with the schedule we have--I am afraid this will be a tough season. Our d line is tiny and unproven, our o line is seriously depth deficient, our wrs don't fit the system, we don't really have a te...who would have thought we would be looking at our defensive back 7 as the strongest group on the team?
Looking at the numbers, its hard to see how we can compete with bama. The only reasons we can get to 8 or more wins this year are the coaching staff and the Denard. Yes, we have other good players, but on the whole we need at least one more cycle to wash out the RR.


July 27th, 2012 at 12:02 AM ^

When I saw that our freshman WRs outweigh the rest of them by 10 pounds, that's exactly what I thought: RR recruited small, fast guys, while Hoke is recruiting more traditional target types. It is indeed a transition and this may be our hardest year. If we didn't have Denard taking snaps I think everyone would be gravely pessimistic about the team's chances this year, but excited about the future with the great recruits coming in. 

The advantage we have relative to other Michigan teams is coaching, which is excellent. The problem is that they don't even have the tools to work with they had last year--Mattison's job was noticeably eased by the D-line's ability to get pressure and make big plays, and Junior Hemingway provided a key jump-ball target well-suited to Denard's playing style. 

Not coincidently, those were the two key units in the smoke-and-mirrors Sugar Bowl win. If someone can step up to perform like that this year, Michigan has a chance for success. But who?


July 27th, 2012 at 8:06 AM ^

I can agree with most of your post, other than this:

"The only reasons we can get to 8 or more wins this year are the coaching staff and the Denard."

Don't get me wrong, Denard and our coaching staff are great, probably among the top in their respective roles in the NCAA.  However, even without them, we have one of the top offensive lines in the B1G, blocking ahead of one of the top RBs in the B1G.  Our talent on the outside is largely unproven but promising. 

Our D just needs to replace 3 guys up front, and if they can do that, they have a great shot at being a better D overall than last year.  They aren't really tiney either.  Roh and Black are on the small-ish side, but Big Will/Pipkins makes up for that.  Beyer will be the only truly undersized starter out there for us.  Other than the line, we return a solid LB corps and maybe one of the best defensive backfields in the B1G, if not the best. 

That all adds up to a pretty darn solid team, even without Denard.  I think 8 wins should be the bare minimum of expectations, with 10-2 being about the highest.

Sextus Empiricus

July 27th, 2012 at 8:07 AM ^

Execution and turnovers are more important than any other roster based stat. Motivation and team play are important as well. Alabama is very different at key positions on both sides of the ball. They need to prove they are better before anyone can say it. We need to believe it before we can do it. Beat Alabama.

Section 1

July 27th, 2012 at 6:31 PM ^

I was wondering where this Denard guy came from.  I was thinking that it must have been Scott Shafer who recruited him, because it couldn't possibly have been Rodriguez, whom we are trying to "wash out." 

Oh, wait; it was Shafer who almost fucked it all up, and that "If Scott Shafer is still Michigan’s defensive coordinator, Denard Robinson is not your quarterback. "

Sextus Empiricus

July 27th, 2012 at 8:13 AM ^

Focus on the 2 deep for team to team and positional comparisons. Subtract out the walk-ons not on the 2 deep for team, position and developmental comparisons. Lastly development is hindered by position change on defense. If you dig to many years back or even report out current data without regard to the actual coached plan for players you are doing yourself a disservice.

As I'm sure you can attest not all teams report out or play to the same position naming formats. Sometimes this is due to nomenclature but other times it is due to scheme. This is interesting as well and should show in your positional analysis, but you need to pay attention to that. It goes deeper than spread vs. manball or 34 43 DL techniques.

An example - I did a rough comparison of Mich vs. Alabama and ran into issues with their roll down of the safeties and lb play. They have different types of athletes playing different roles. The H back position is another issue on offense as some teams are bought into the Joe Gibbs "H" back idea while others are using different personnel, formations and match ups.

I'm interested in your categorization - which is why I suggest focusing on the 2 deep above.

This analysis leads to a finer appreciation for the game, players and year to year the coaches. Football is tribal. However nothing is secret on the field. If bigger is better then it shows on team rosters and 2 deeps. Since the 70s bigger has been better. However we are at the limilts to the human body at many poisitions. The exceptions are truly worthy of the NFL.

Football isn't Baseball. Coaches want so much beef here and so much there to get it done. Football is like Baseball in that stats aren't shown for so much that is really relevant. What is shown is height, weight and an approximate position. I applaud this anlaysis and look forward to the position breakdown.

Charlie Chunk

July 28th, 2012 at 1:59 PM ^

I love statistical analysis.  There's always a little surprise in store for everyone!  My surprise has to do with our freshman class.  The average height of 74.2 and weight of 234.3 makes them as big and tall as anyone in the current B1G.

That's a pretty quick transition from the RR era.



July 29th, 2012 at 6:48 AM ^

Vincent Smith is listed at 5'6". Among our own RB corps, Fitz, Rawls and Hayes are 5'10", and Hopkins is an even 6'. I am making headway on an analysis by offensive position groups right now (defense to be done after that), but our RBs are indeed the shortest overall in the conference on current rosters. The next shortest is Penn State.