August 11, 2008 Conference Power Index: Big Ten

The Conference Power Index (CPI) is a compilation of each conference's rank (six points for first place, five points for second place, etc.) in the following categories: AP poll rankings, BCS record, other bowls record, nonconference RPI and NFL draft picks. AP poll and BCS record were weighted doubly. This study examined two five-year periods: 1) The 1998 season through the 2003 NFL draft; 2) The '03 season through the '08 NFL draft.


Fallen powers tarnish conference's reputation

In the late '90s and early 2000s, the Big Ten sat atop the conference pecking order. The league posted an impressive 17-12 bowl record, including 5-3 in BCS games (tied for first with the SEC), produced one national champion (Ohio State in 2002) and four top-five teams. Something went awry, however, as the Big Ten tumbled from first to fourth in the more recent five-year span, marked most notoriously by an ugly 14-22 bowl record, including 3-6 in BCS games.

So what happened? Two of the league's most prominent programs, Penn State and Michigan, experienced drop-offs. While the Wolverines were good enough to merit three Rose Bowl berths (2003, '04 and '06), they lost every game. The Nittany Lions, meanwhile, endured four losing seasons in five years from 2000-04. Iowa, following a 31-7 run from 2002-'04, has been mediocre since. And Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota all fired struggling coaches.

CPI Rank 2003-2008 1998-2003
4th 1st
CPI Categories Data Conference Rank Data Conference Rank
AP Poll .363 2nd .382 3rd
BCS Record 3-6 5th 5-3 t-1st
Other Bowls Record 11-16 6th 12-9 2nd
Nonconference RPI .5145 5th .5310 2nd
NFL Draft Picks 15.9 2nd 15.9 2nd
Additional Categories Of Interest (Not included in CPI formula)
AP All-Americans 29 1st 23 2nd
Avg. Attendance 70,627 2nd 68,697 2nd
Avg. Coaches Salary $1,405,023 4th $881,100 5th
CPI Notes:
  • AP poll: Percent of conferences' teams ranked in the final AP poll.
  • Nonconference RPI: Conferences' performance in nonconference games weighted by strength of opponents. (Compiled by Jerry Palm of
  • NFL Draft Picks: Average number of NFL draft picks per school.
  • AP All-Americans: First team selections only.
  • Avg. Coaches Salary: Based on head coaches' reported salaries for 2002 and 2007 seasons. (Salary information for certain private schools was not available.)

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