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CFB: Auburn’s Place Among BCS Champions

Posted by Neil Paine on January 13, 2011

Note: This post was originally published at CFB at Sports-Reference, S-R's new College Football site, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

Whenever a team wins a championship, the temptation is always to compare them to other champions from the past, and the 2010 Auburn Tigers are no exception. Using the Simple Rating System (SRS), let's take a look at where the newest title-holders stand among BCS champs...

On Monday, ESPN asked its users to rank the BCS Champions from #1-13, coming up with this list:

Team Total Pts #1 Votes
2005 Texas 147,259 3,238
2004 USC 141,467 2,710
2009 Alabama 138,222 2,104
2001 Miami-FL 130,473 2,474
2008 Florida 119,697 1,071
2006 Florida 102,270 478
2010 Auburn 92,789 1,042
1999 Florida State 87,367 446
2002 Ohio State 82,755 629
2003 LSU 79,905 404
2000 Oklahoma 78,115 388
1998 Tennessee 74,067 525
2007 LSU 73,156 200

The SRS, though, comes up with a different ranking:

Year School Conf W L T SRS SOS
2001 Miami-FL Big East 12 0 0 26.169 5.741
2004 Southern California Pac 10 13 0 0 26.062 8.788
2008 Florida SEC 13 1 0 25.370 6.701
2005 Texas Big 12 13 0 0 24.977 5.686
2009 Alabama SEC 14 0 0 23.693 7.747
1999 Florida State ACC 12 0 0 23.495 6.208
2000 Oklahoma Big 12 13 0 0 21.555 5.812
2003 Louisiana State SEC 13 1 0 20.847 4.033
2010 Auburn SEC 14 0 0 20.648 7.031
1998 Tennessee SEC 13 0 0 19.955 4.955
2006 Florida SEC 13 1 0 19.661 7.886
2007 Louisiana State SEC 12 2 0 18.414 6.659
2002 Ohio State Big Ten 14 0 0 18.134 4.739

Another way you can tweak the rankings is to account for the distribution of SRS talent in a given season using standard deviations above average (aka z-scores):

Year School Conf W L T SRS SOS Z-Score
2008 Florida SEC 13 1 0 25.370 6.701 2.566
2001 Miami-FL Big East 12 0 0 26.169 5.741 2.424
2004 Southern California Pac 10 13 0 0 26.062 8.788 2.407
2009 Alabama SEC 14 0 0 23.693 7.747 2.336
2005 Texas Big 12 13 0 0 24.977 5.686 2.335
1999 Florida State ACC 12 0 0 23.495 6.208 2.288
2003 Louisiana State SEC 13 1 0 20.847 4.033 1.999
2000 Oklahoma Big 12 13 0 0 21.555 5.812 1.993
2006 Florida SEC 13 1 0 19.661 7.886 1.966
2010 Auburn SEC 14 0 0 20.648 7.031 1.945
1998 Tennessee SEC 13 0 0 19.955 4.955 1.849
2007 Louisiana State SEC 12 2 0 18.414 6.659 1.844
2002 Ohio State Big Ten 14 0 0 18.134 4.739 1.694

Looking at the expanded 2010 standings, we see that even after defeating Oregon, Auburn was still just the 3rd-best team in the country according to SRS (behind Stanford and the Ducks). Here were the national SRS ranks of each BCS champ:

Year School Conf W L T SRS SRS Rk
2001 Miami-FL Big East 12 0 0 26.169 1
2004 Southern California Pac 10 13 0 0 26.062 1
2008 Florida SEC 13 1 0 25.370 1
2005 Texas Big 12 13 0 0 24.977 1
2009 Alabama SEC 14 0 0 23.693 1
1999 Florida State ACC 12 0 0 23.495 1
2003 Louisiana State SEC 13 1 0 20.847 2
2007 Louisiana State SEC 12 2 0 18.414 2
2000 Oklahoma Big 12 13 0 0 21.555 3
2010 Auburn SEC 14 0 0 20.648 3
1998 Tennessee SEC 13 0 0 19.955 3
2006 Florida SEC 13 1 0 19.661 3
2002 Ohio State Big Ten 14 0 0 18.134 5

Taking all of this into consideration, I think this year's Auburn team was much more like 2000 Oklahoma & 1998 Tennessee than ESPN's voters believed. All three of those teams went undefeated, but also finished just 3rd in national SRS because several of their wins were by razor-thin margins. If 2002 Ohio State & 2007 LSU are battling it out for the title of "worst BCS champion", then 2010 Auburn is in the next tier up, alongside the '98 Vols, '00 Sooners, '06 Gators, and '03 Tigers. (And had Oregon won on Monday, they'd be in the same group.) Ranking 2010 Auburn above the 1999 Seminoles really sells FSU short, as that team belongs in the next tier with 2005 Texas, 2009 Alabama, & 2008 Florida.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 13th, 2011 at 11:45 am and is filed under BCS, Best/Worst Ever, College, Simple Rating System, Statgeekery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.