What would a college football Super League look like?
That’s been the question since news of a 15-team European soccer league broke out last weekend. For college football, a Super League would have to be based on four “R’s”: revenue, relevance, rings and recruiting.
We at Sporting News attempted to form our own 15-team Super League using the following criteria:
- Revenue (scored 15-1): Money talks. Which programs generate the most money? They would be ranked from 1-15, with the top program receiving 15 points. This would be updated every year.
- Record (scored 15-1): What is your program’s record the last 10 seasons? The top 15 FBS schools in winning percentage would be listed, with the top program receiving 15 points.
- Rings (scored 15-1): When did your school win its last national championship? The last 15 schools would receive points on a 15-1 scale, with Alabama, the most-recent national champion, getting 15 points.
- NFL Draft picks (scored 15-1): You could counter-balance this with NCAA graduation rates, but the number of NFL Draft picks would be ranked on that same 15-1 scale from the last 10 drafts.
You could use those four factors to move schools in and out of the league every year. After all, Notre Dame, Georgia and Penn State haven’t won a national championship in the last 30 seasons. Boise State and Appalachian State have room to slip in based on high winning percentages.
Imagine watching the NFL Draft for relegation purposes. Teams could then be rewarded with points based on championship and championship appearances within the Super League.
Imagine a coin flip to decide the 15th team. That formula isn’t perfect, but this is college football after all. As you’ll see, this formula isn’t about regionalism at all.
With that in mind, a look at the 15 teams in Sporting News Super League ranked from top to bottom:
Sporting News’ College Football Super League
1. Alabama (52)
The Crimson Tide rank first in national championships, NFL Draft picks and winning percentage. They are one of five SEC schools in the league.
2. Ohio State (49.5)
The Buckeyes have dominated the Big Ten and are the only Super League team that ranks in the top five in every category.
3. LSU (41.5)
The Tigers’ 2020 national championship and high volume of NFL Draft picks would keep them in the top five for the foreseeable future, but there is competition within the SEC.
4. Clemson (38)
The Tigers would be the model for programs that want to be in the Super League, because they would not have been here during the BCS era. The Tigers are not a huge revenue-generator, but they have the on-field success.
5. Georgia (34)
The Bulldogs rank second in revenue, and they back that up with strong showings in winning percentage and NFL Draft picks. That compensates for the national championship drought that dates back to 1980.
6. Oklahoma (33.5)
The Sooners are one of two Big 12 programs in the Super League, and this ranking is accurate given the consistent success tempered by the inability to win a College Football Playoff semifinal.
7. Notre Dame (25)
This is the right spot for the Irish, a program that hasn’t won a national championship since 1988 but has managed top-five revenue with a top-10 winning percentage. Let’s see how Notre Dame does in this conference.
t8. Texas (23)
The Longhorns rank first in revenue, which compensates for no points in NFL Draft production or winning percentage. That could be fixed with being the lone Texas school represented in the Super League.
t8. Florida (23)
The Gators are outside the top 15 in winning percentage, but they are the highest ranked team of the three major FBS schools in Florida. Few would disagree with that assessment heading into 2021.
t10. Michigan (20)
College football’s winningest program ranks third in revenue, but they are not among the top 15 schools in winning percentage the last decade. Is Michigan worthy of the Super League? That would be trending every Saturday.
t10. Florida State (20)
The Seminoles might not have the revenue now, but they won the last national championship in the BCS era and have proven they can put together rosters flush with NFL talent.
12. Auburn (19)
The Tigers are the fifth SEC school on the list, and this would be the spot that schools such as Texas A&M and Tennessee would be chasing.
13. Miami (14.5)
“The U” made it despite not placing in the top 15 in revenue or winning percentage. They are a unicorn on this list as a result, but for now all three Florida powers are in the Super League. That’s good for television.
14. Penn State (12)
The Nittany Lions rank sixth in revenue, and they would be on the bubble any given year given the program’s last national championship was 1986.
15. USC (11.5)
The Trojans are the lone Pac-12 representative in the Super League, and their spot is tenuous given the competition behind them. USC still produces enough NFL talent to be relevant, but the Pete Carroll heyday is fading quickly.
First Five out
Boise State (11)
The Broncos missed the cut by 0.5 points as the next four out. A Group of 5 school’s odds would be slim, but they have a better chance of being in the Super League than they do the College Football Playoff.
The Badgers would be in the mix on any given year based on their winning percentage and NFL Draft production, but this accounts for the program’s inability to win a national championship.
The Huskers still rank in the top 15 in revenue, but they can no longer live off those 1990s national championships.
Appalachian State (8)
Could you imagine the rise from FCS powerhouse to Super League Cinderella?
The Vols would be the highest-ranked SEC schools outside of the Super League. Who is going to argue they belong based on the 21st century?
Super League scores