Are we at complete parity in CFB now?

Submitted by MonkeyMan on November 27th, 2014 at 11:32 PM

So TCU just beat Texas as predicted- and by a lot. Miss State is a powerhouse (who?), KSU and Baylor have a shot at the playoffs, ASU out west is doing well, etc. etc. 

On the other hand, Florida, Miami (FL), Tennessee, Penn State, UM (us), VT, and more great hallowed names are pushover teams. Lots of "old time" perennial powers just look plain average-  Nebraska, USC, ND, LSU, etc.

So does a storied name and program really mean that much anymore? Yes, I know that big names like FSU, OSU, UCLA, Bama, etc. are right up there in the hunt- but are the big name schools statistically doing better than their percentages among all teams?

For every OSU there is a Penn St or UM stuck in the mud

For every FSU there is an aweful VT or Miami (FL)

For every Bama there is a terrible Florida, Tennessee, not so good Georgia

For every Oregon there is a USC

Hell the kids are running the Big 12- Texas and OU aren't keeping up

The reason I was wondering this was that I kinds like what Kill is doing over at Minnesota- and i got to thinking: "wow, think of what he could pull off at UM with its resources"

But then I wondered- maybe what really matters the most isn't the university, its the coach- maybe Kill can get as great of a record at Minnesota as he could if at Michigan- maybe we offer no big advantage that would make him win more. Sure we can get lots of high starred recruits- but a lot of those failing schools have good recruiting classes. Maybe that isn't all that big a deal- maybe there isn't that big of a difference between a 3 and 4 star kid when they meet a great coach. Lots of coaches are doing very well with lower ranked kids,

So are we at parity? Does the name and facilities of a university really give an advantage that is all that significant anymore? Would Kill not do better here?


Darker Blue

November 27th, 2014 at 11:34 PM ^

I believe I can fly

I believe I can touch the sky 

think about it every night and day

spread my wings and fly away 

I believe I can soar 

see me running through that open door.


November 27th, 2014 at 11:46 PM ^

It seems like there's a lot more teams that are good than ever before and there isn't really one team you can say is better than anyone else. This year has been very interesting. 

Then again so was 2007 when at one time USF, Boston College, Cal, and Kansas were all ranked #2 and Missouri was #1. 

Gucci Mane

November 28th, 2014 at 12:00 AM ^

Yes we are at a complete parity. In 10 years it is just as likely that indiana, Illinois, and Rutgers are great as it is that michigan, ohio state, and Nebraska are.


November 28th, 2014 at 12:26 AM ^

Everything matters quality of recruits, quality of facilities, quality of coaches to make a good team. Most SEC teams have all 3. If recruits and facilties didn't matter then EMU wouldn't have been so bad for so long.


November 28th, 2014 at 1:13 AM ^

OK- I get it that folks here aren't into this and thats OK. Could somebody recommend a neat college football site where there are folks that are into talking about this subject seriously. I realize that people may not be into this subject here and don't want ro fight it - to each their own. 

But I actually do like serious discussions in college football subjects. If there is anybody out there that knows of some cool CFB sites where you can post these kind of questions and get interesting replies  I would appreciate any suggestions.

thanks very much


November 28th, 2014 at 1:28 AM ^

Okay, I'll bite. No, college football is not at complete parity. The traditional powerhouses are struggling from some combination of bad successors, complacent management, old coaches who need to retire, and just some good ole fashion bad luck.

Mississippi State is where it is because of 1) really good coaching, 2) a down year for traditional programs, and 3) the modern day ESS EEE SEE bias (thanks again, ESPN!!)

As for why you are getting few mature responses, I would chalk that up most people still up at this time being drunk or delirious from Black Friday shopping. But in their defense, your question/topic was very poorly worded. I'm honestly still debating whether or not you know what complete parity means, because you could've just asked us why the good teams suck and the bad teams don't, which is pretty much what you are asking. But that would've elicited the same responses that you have been given already.


November 28th, 2014 at 2:26 AM ^

I would agree that COMPLETE parity was not what I intended exactly- but I guess I was also hoping that there was SOME good will among the readers to help me figure this out in a respectful way and move to an interesting discussion. I wrote enough about the subject in the main title post that anybody who wanted to could tell what I was talking about.  Others replied and understood what i was asking so it wasn't that difficult. 

I do know what parity means and know that we are not there- but when you title a thread you have to use as few words as possible to get across an idea and this was the best compromise I could come up with. Perhaps you have a better single word definition?

I think this all comes down to good will- without which people just treat each other badly- and I am not into that. I actually have a theory as to why this might be happening but am more interested in getting with others that are into this subject.

can you recommend a CFB blog/site where folks are into issues regarding general trends and topics that cover all teams? 

I would appreciate it 


November 28th, 2014 at 1:43 AM ^

but i'll assume you don't mean that every team goes 6-6.

however, if we're talking about parity in a sense of the word that is at all meaningful, then a team like marshall wouldn't be able to go undefeated and be kept out of the top 4. so, there may be an unprecedented intraconference parity right now, but there are still clear divisions between perceived quality of conferences.


November 28th, 2014 at 1:57 AM ^

The scholarship limitations has maade it more difficult for traditional football powers to continually dominate.  In the early to mid 70s with 105 scholarships available, teams like Michigan stockpiled quality players.  There was always somebody with experience ready to step in for an injured player, and at a school like Michigan, second stringers would have started at most any other school.  Even when the number was reduced to 95, there was still a possibility to have significant depth at every position. The SEC and other schools that regularly offer 25-30 new scholarships every year (which would lead to 100 or more scholarship players without attrition) are able to tilt the numbers in their favor in a way similar to some of the teams of the past.



November 28th, 2014 at 3:59 AM ^

The information age has allowed more coaches to have more information, from X's and O's to nutrition to training to drills, that they can use to develop players from pee-wee football through college.  Consequently, there are a lot more good players now than there used to be. The great teams can't get all of the good football players anymore.

The increment between a "great" player and an good football player is a lot smaller now, too.  It isn't enough to make everyone go 6-6, but it is enough to produce a lot of upsets and give any school that really dedicates itself to having a great football team a chance at being closer to the top of the food chain.

If you have top-notch faclities, great coaches and a first class conditioning program, you are going to be able to attract and develop very good football players.  Coaches and those who run conditioning programs now have more information available to them than at any point in history.  That makes those who are dedicated and intelligent much more able to become extremely proficient.  If the coaches and conditioning program are great, it's just a matter of attracting recruits.

In the SEC and for schools like Ohio State, USC and Oregon, the "bagman" factor also applies.  

In other words, there is parity: sorta.  Those "middle of the pack" teams are capable of upsetting top 25 teams now.


November 28th, 2014 at 8:38 AM ^

Pat Jones has a segment on one of the local sports radio shows here in Oklahoma, and I've heard him make this argument as well. He didn't talk so much about the information age, but did point out the number of camps available and how some high school conditioning programs and training facilities (I think he had in mind here one Oklahoma and several Texas high schools) are now better than what many colleges had 20-30 years ago. The one modern advance that he pooh-poohed was diet.  He based this on some of his star athletes, like Thurman Thomas who he said ate Twinkies as a central part of his diet.


November 28th, 2014 at 11:51 AM ^

Tater wrote: "Blame it on the Internet"

First, thanks for your extended response. This is a good point and one that I wondered about- is the information about excellence more available than ever before such that an open minded person can learn the "tricks" of being a great coach faster than ever?

If this is the case, then the coaches who fail are failing for reasons of personality flaws- they are stubbornly not doing what the expert knowledge out there says to do. 

I wonder also about the profusion of skill camps, hight tech training knowlegde, etc. that might be closing the gap. 

Another thing I wonder- are many of the 2-3 star players potential 4-5 star players when they get great training? That would close the gap in a hurry.


November 28th, 2014 at 4:15 AM ^

You named a lot of teams with very good football coaches.  I think we've reached a point with fancy offenses, and enough teams putting tons of money into facilties (where there is definitely parity in many programs) that there is a chance for any of 25-30 programs to do very well with the right coach.  

But to specific names you also named teams that have been around a while outside of Miss State and Baylor - TCU was ranked top 10 multiple times the past decade and top 5 I believe at least twice.  It's not new.  KSU under Snyder is not new - he has had 1-2 loss teams multiple times, and top 10 teams multiple times.  He is probably the best football coach on planet earth considering his recruiting classes are in the 60s. 

Miss State can be categorized as a 1 year wonder until further notice and has the SEC benefit of oversigning.  ASU has a very good coach and it is not like they never have been good - we played them in a Rose Bowl once and they had some good years under - wait for it - a good coach in John Cooper.  So what worked in the 80s, works now - a good coach.

Only Baylor outside of Miss State would I consider "out of the blue" and brand new.

Also all the powers you listed falling off creates a power vacuum - someone has to fill it by default.   So these are teams leading by default.  Someone has to win 10-11 games a year if TN, UM, PSU, Texas, USC, Miami, Nebraska, et al is not.    It would be different if "new era power team" was beating up on a bunch of powers (i.e. 1 great team beating another great team) - in most cases (not all) they are not.  They are beating up on bad to average teams with a brand name on their jersey.


November 28th, 2014 at 11:53 AM ^

Never thought of the power vacuum angle you bring up- which is a good point. But why are so many "blue blood" powers so weak? Is there an unknown reason why so many great teams are aweful right now? Does having a big name program create dangers that middle of the road programs don't have?


November 28th, 2014 at 4:20 AM ^

p.s. I like what Jerry Kill has done but please dont put Minnesota in the same category as these others.   TCU destroyed Minnesota this year. 

All MN has done is beat up on bad teams (UM) and a fraud team with a brand name (Neb) and a lot of riff raff in the worst big 5 conference.  And then promptly lost to Illinois.  Their best perfmorance thus far is probably a loss to OSU.  Their best win is a team Wisconsin could have beaten by 70 if not for 3 fumbles in the 1st quarter. 

That's very different than what Baylor or TCU has done this year or heck ASU.  Minnesota is again - filling a void - there are basically 3 quality teams in the entire conference.  They are the best of the worst.


November 28th, 2014 at 6:22 AM ^

Blame the fans. Those perennial powerhouses that are down? Their fans just complained too much. Those annual power-mobilehomes that are up? Their fans obviously didnt complain to much. 


November 28th, 2014 at 7:22 AM ^

I believe that the ESS EEE SEE has a big advantage because of many reasons, like good coaching, southern weather, bagmen, ESPN sport center programming, professers who turn a blind eye, professors who are afraid of a black eye, police officers who can turn a blind eye, ok rampent cheating. and a need under any circumstances to beat the best non SEC football teams in the country.

I also believe if this isn't addressed it will be the fall of college football, or morf into professional wrastling. Can you say BO BO Brazil or Dick the Bruiser? See what I mean, paranoid, right?


November 28th, 2014 at 7:58 AM ^

The reason I was wondering this was that I kinds like what Kill is doing over at Minnesota- and i got to thinking: "wow, think of what he could pull off at UM with its resources"

I think that wondering things like this might be part of the reason we're not quite there yet. There are some programs that, for example, underachieving though they are have this wonderful problem of brand equity. Indeed, there's one near and dear to all of us here that is hoping that this very thing can snag them certain names to fill a spot soon to be vacant most likely.

There are probably a surprising number of teams that are a coach or coordinator away from being really good, but then there are still more that seem to have an artificial cap on their performance, usually created by the relative level of investment in the program by a school

There are also teams which have been consistently competitive for an extended period that continually build their "brand" and therefore the quality of incoming classes, and conversely, there are a few teams on the decline.

What I think we're seeing is a slightly different set of teams edging into the upper tier of FBS, but they a fair number of them do it the same way some of the old guard have done it for some time - by clubbling the bottom feeders and the middling teams, a large group which has been relatively stable in its composition, I would think.


November 28th, 2014 at 12:01 PM ^

This is true-

what strikes me is the overall level of surprise I am seeing  every weekend- some powerhouse team barely escapes some bottom feeder. I really think this is a dangerous environment to bet in. It almost seems like the difference between any two teams is less than 10-25% and a bad set of turnovers, penalties, etc, can suddenly make a game competitive. 

Who will show up and play this weekend? Who will have an off day? These things are more disasterous as the gap between programs narrows.

I just can't get over how many great names are terrible right now.


November 28th, 2014 at 8:56 AM ^

A head coach is now more important than the program's historic reputation. End of story. Also you can be nationally TELEVISED playing at Toledo or Western Michigan on ESPN Thursday Night TV. Not so 20 years ago.


November 28th, 2014 at 9:02 AM ^

We have more parity or less inequality but we still have advantages that are being squandered.   This week's fee fi fo film makes the most important point in one statement saying something along the lines of Urban M consistenty putting his players in positions to do what they do best, where with Hoke this is simply not the case.  Good coaches are developers and multipliers of talent.  We seem to have a regime where talent needs to overcome its coaching.   With M, the lack of a consistent passing threat has greatly simplified the lives of D coordinators and M can't rely on the raw physical / talent advantage to overcome their one-dimensional nature like they could in th Bo days. I believe DG would have been a better passer within the context of the spread than an under-center man ball QB. So are our passing woes nature or nurture? Probably a whole lot of the latter and a small amout of the former.   But the bottom line is the QB is the leader and as he goes, so goes the team.  And every time I see Gardner under center I think to myself, Hoke / Nuss are hard-F idiots. FWIW.

After factors 1,2 it just comes down where the weak links in the chain are. And everybody's got them, we just have them in the worst possible places. Last year it was mainly O-line, but again, I revert back to the Urban commentary, we ran much better last year out of the shotgun, lather rinse repeat.

So next year, hope springs anew, we will have a new #1 a new #2 and hopefully a 1 that develops 2s.  I feel like the rest of the team has enough depth and talent to compete at a much higher level.


November 28th, 2014 at 10:30 AM ^

I like this formulation.

Minnesota has been a nice "feel good" story of 2014.  I like what Coach Kill is doing up there.

In thinking about the OP and parity in college football ... I suspect there are several "tiers" in college football -- elite, good, fair, and poor.  Minnesota has achieved "good."  Michigan is mired in "fair."  Indiana and Purdue is wallowing in "poor".

Up in the "elite" tier I think there's a fair degree of parity.  On any given Saturday we might see the ball bounce one way or another.  The "elite" tier is perhaps 8 to 10 teams in size.  (Which is why we'll see an 8-team playoff very soon.)  I think the parity up at the "elite" level will continue, and it will become increasingly difficult to crack into the elite level as time goes by and the playoff system makes staying "elite" a true arms race.


November 28th, 2014 at 12:04 PM ^

JevaBlue- totally agree that we squander our advantages and create stupid mismatches. I also think we meddle too much moving people around and need to let them develop a groove at their position. With all out 4 star players we should be much, much better.

But maybe a football team is much more than the sum of its parts. Maybe 11 four star guys not in sync are the same as 11 two star guys. 

snarling wolverine

November 28th, 2014 at 11:12 AM ^

I don't think so.  From year to year, you'll see the odd Missisissippi State make an emergence, but in the long run those schools don't have staying power.  Likewise, Michigan and Texas might be down now, but they won't be for too much longer.  Over the long haul the historically elite programs remain the best.