Elite Teams (aka Elite Seasons)
Historically, Non-Elite programs are running uphill to have an Elite Season and Elite Programs are running downhill to have one.
- Since 1994, the average FBS team has an Elite Season 5.1% of the time.
- Since 1994, Elite Programs have an Elite Season 36.8% of the time.
- So far, in the Playoff Era (2014-2022) the selection committee has selected 26 Elite Programs and 10 Non-Elite Programs (Clemson 2015, Washington 2016, Georgia 2017/2020, Notre Dame 2018/2020, Michigan 2021-2022, Cincinnati 2021, and TCU 2022). That’s 61.6% Elite Programs.
- No team has been selected for the College Football Playoff without either being an Elite Program, beating an Elite Program, or defeating a CFP team from the previous year.
- From 1998-2013, the BCS NCG also chose 80% Elite Programs and only selected 2 programs that had never been elite before out of 32 teams over 16 years (Virginia Tech 1999, Oregon 2010).
- 39 programs (of 130) can lay claim to being an Elite Program at one time or another in the past 86 seasons.
- Michigan is the winningest program in college football history so, it is no surprise that they have also been an Elite Program more often than any other program (67 years). Interestingly though, their run as an Elite Program came to an end in 2010 and they had their first elite season since 2003 in 2021.
- By 2022 conference alignment: 8 ACC teams (9 with Notre Dame), 8 SEC teams, 9 Big Ten teams, 6 Pac 12 teams, and 4 Big 12 teams have been Elite Programs since 1936.
College football is cyclical
Every team goes through ups and downs. Consistent eliteness over the past 86 years is very rare.
- Once a program becomes an Elite Program, the average tenure is 10.12 years.
- Only 21 programs have been elite in 10 (roughly 1/8 of the time) of the past 86 years.
- Only 17 programs have been elite in 21 (1/4 of the time) of the past 86 years.
- Only 7 programs have been elite in 41 (1/2 of the time) of the past 86 years.
- Only 5 programs have been elite in 64 (3/4 of the time) of the past 86 years (Michigan, Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma).
Weighted Recruiting Composite
WRC and the Natty
Star rating of one individual player may not matter much, but team talent level matters a lot.
- A team in the top 2 of that year’s WRC has won 7 of the last 11 National Championships (64%).
- A team in the top 6 of that year’s WRC has won 14 of the past 16 National Championships (85%). Clemson, at #14, was the outlier in 2016 and 2018.
- From 2006-2021, the average WRC ranking of the National Champion is 4.8.
- The lowest a National Champion has been ranked is 14th (Clemson 2016 and 2018).
The 2021 WRC
One aspect of the Eliteness Effect is recruiting. Nothing helps your staying power more than getting to the top of the mountain. Note: Clemson is really messing up my perfect score here as their two NCs are such outliers. As a fan, I’m not complaining though.
- The current top 4 have won 4 of the last 6 National Championships.
- The current top 10 have won the last 14 National Championships.
- The current top 18 have won the last 22 National Championships.
- The current top 21 have won the last 29 National Championships.
9 of the top 10 in the 2020 WRC are Elite Programs.
Elite Teams and The WRC
- The average Elite Team WRC rank in the CFP era is 14.8.
- 31 of the 45 Elite Teams in the CFP era were ranked in the top 14.
Team Expectations Based on Their WRC Ranking
- If you want to have legitimate National Championship expectations, you need to be ranked in the top 6 of the WRC.
- If you want to have any HOPES of winning the National Championship, you need to be ranked in the top 14 of the WRC.
- If you want to have Elite Program expectations (field three Elite Teams over 5 years), you need to be ranked in the top 16 of the WRC.
- If you want to have Elite Program hopes, you need to be ranked in the top 30 of the WRC.
- If you want to have Elite Team expectations in the CFP era, you need to be ranked in the top 14 of the WRC.
- If you want to have Elite Team hopes in the CFP era, you need to be ranked in the top 73. The lowest ranked Elite Teams: UCF ’17 (73), Baylor ’14 (38), TCU ’14 (37).
Head Coach Rating
Top Coaching Performances by Year 2010-2019
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