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Who's Number One?

Sam Walker has devised a different way to measure the best college football program ($$$) in the land, and it does not account for wins and losses. It accounts for how players from various programs performed in the NFL last year.

To create these rankings, we copied down the official rosters for every NFL game played last season, giving each player a separate entry for each game -- about 27,000 in all. We grouped the players by college, and then gave each school points based on the role their alumni played. Starters earned more than substitutes or benchwarmers, and players involved in wins gained extra points. So under our system, Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, who started every game for a team that won 14 of 16, earned 94 points for his alma mater, Tennessee -- while a decent bench player from an average team would earn about half that. We tallied each school's total points to arrive at an "alumni success score" for more than 250 schools from Notre Dame to Northern Arizona.

Walker's top 10:

  1. Florida State
  2. Florida
  3. Georgia
  4. Tennessee
  5. Ohio State
  6. Michigan
  7. Miami
  8. Auburn
  9. Louisiana State
  10. North Carolina

What can programs do to improve their players' status in the NFL? Walker suggests:

  1. Hire a coach with NFL experience
  2. Let NFL scouts come visit your program and welcome them.
  3. Bring back NFL players who played in your program for a visit.

Improving recruiting also helps, but that's partly dependent on the success of alumni in the NFL.

This reminds me of an argument I heard awhile back on who was the better coach: Tom Osborne of Nebraska or Hayden Fry of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Nebraska was a perennial powerhouse and had 3 National Championships under Osborne. Iowa has a solid program, but had no National Championships under Fry. But because assistant coaches from the Hawkeye program obtained much more success in college coaching ranks than those under Osborne, Fry was considered the better coach.

It's said that you are only as good as those you surround yourself with and it's great when your players have success in the NFL, but you have to give the greatest weight to the on-field performance of the team.