The debut 2020 edition of my ranking system to determine the most talented teams in college football.
My annual college football preview originally began as a labor of love many years ago, but the past few years with legalized sports wagering it's also become an investment. Therefore, I'm constantly striving to get as unbiased and thorough of a read on college football as I possibly can.
In this era of the sub-package specialization, early enrollees, advanced strength and conditioning down to the high school level, early entrees into the NFL Draft, and the transfer portal, simply counting returning starters as we used to do back in the day doesn't cut it. That's why analytics are rightfully all the rage, and if you're into that sort of thing Bill Connelly at ESPN is probably the closest thing college football has to KenPom.
However, his analytics are largely based on returning production. And while that's a far superior way of determining how good these teams are than merely counting returning starters and letter-men, it doesn't always tell us how good these teams could be. In other words, how good are the names we don't yet know?
To help me answer this question, and provide me a more profitable metric, back in 2017 I decided to create what I call the Total Team Talent Ratings. These compare the roster potential of power five programs (and Notre Dame) with each other.
These are calculated by the following criteria:
--Using the 247 Sports Composite recruiting rankings of the three major services (247, Rivals, and ESPN), we give each player on the roster a point total based on the star they were assessed as a recruit. So 5 points for a 5-star, 4 points for a 4-star, etc.
--We only evaluate the last four recruiting classes, so for this year that's 2017-20. That's because 5th-year seniors at the power five conference level are just not as impactful or plentiful as they used to be. But if a 5th-year senior figures prominently on the depth chart, they are still accounted for.
--These are constantly being updated all offseason to account for the latest roster news, which is why these are debuting on January 20th -- the deadline to formally declare early for the NFL Draft. Thus, along with the early signing period come and gone, we now have our first real look at the framework for next season's college football rosters.
--To account for teams that are considered "developmental" programs, thus they don't recruit a lot of 4-and-5-star prospects, as their players overachieve their incoming star rating they are given additional points. For example, Minnesota's Tanner Morgan was just the No. 1185th-rated prospect coming out of high school, but he clearly played above that last season. Therefore, he's now considered a 4-star in this metric. Players who underachieve their star rating are not lowered points, though, because the point of this exercise is to measure potential. And there could be mitigating circumstances beyond an overrated evaluation that has held a player back, like injuries.
--Finally, there are many players in the transfer portal awaiting word on a waiver to play next season. Therefore, several teams could be in line for a boost in these ratings between now and September. The transfer portal has already been a boost to a program like Tennessee, hence its unexpectedly high score.
--These will be updated again after the February signing day.
Top 25 Most-Talented Rosters (with Total Team Talent Rating in parentheses)
1. Alabama (345)
2. Ohio State (335)
3. Georgia (333)
4. Penn State (323)
5. Oregon (310)
6. Oklahoma (309)
7. Michigan (305)
8. Clemson (301)
9. Notre Dame (299)
10. Florida (297)
11. Auburn (292)
12. Tennessee (291)
13. Texas A&M (290)
14. Texas (288)
15. tie, Kentucky, Virginia Tech (285)
17. Purdue (284)
18. Indiana (283)
19. Minnesota (280)
20. tie, LSU, South Carolina (279)
22. tie, North Carolina, Washington (278)
24. tie, Mississippi State, Nebraska (275)
1. Ohio State (335)
2. Penn State (327)
3. Michigan (305)
4. Purdue (284)
5. Indiana (283)
6. Minnesota (280)
7. Nebraska (275)
8. Michigan State (273)
9. Iowa (268)
10. Wisconsin (261)
11. Maryland (255)
12. Illinois (248)
13. Northwestern (244)
14. Rutgers (232)