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The Other Tiers 2018

In the last post we looked at 2018’s Elite Teams in college football.   Each article builds on the others, so in an effort to not repeat things each time, I’m going to keep things moving forward.  So if you’re new to Eliteness, make sure that you read the previous articles first.

Again, the goal here is to objectively identify program perception nationally. Without a definitive basis for the evaluation, you’re left to sort through a bunch of opinions and opinions are like, well, you know. Most pundits opinions are going to be either too close or too far removed from the program to retain objectivity, including me. That’s where this system comes in, and hopefully, it at least helps you form a more accurate opinion even if you happen to disagree.

In this post we will take a look at the tiers below the Elite Level. All 130 teams in the FBS fall into one of six tiers that are based on the same principles (Collective Opinion/ Circle of Proof) used to find the Elite Teams. Here are the six tiers from strongest to weakest:

  • Elite Teams
  • Big Boy Football
  • Fringe Top 25 Teams
  • Mediocre Teams
  • Weak Teams
  • Bottom Feeders

We’ll start with the tier below the Elite Teams, Big Boy Football. Big Boy Football also happens to be the standard I have for Clemson Football. Barring injuries or a lack of commitment from the administration, I believe that Clemson should be a Big Boy team every year.  So, how are we doing?

  • From 2012-2018, Clemson has made the Big Boy level 7 times in 7 years for the first time in school history.
  • The last time Clemson finished below the Big Boy level was in 2011 when we lost to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl and finished 10-4.
  • From 1990 to 2011, Clemson reached the Big Boy level only once, in 2003, the year of “The Finish.”

So, what exactly is the Big Boy Football level?

Big Boy Football Teams are the non-elite teams in the Final AP Poll Top 15 and any Top 25 Team that has defeated a Top 15 Team.

Here are the Big Boy level teams this year. I included their Final AP Poll ranking:

From time to time, I will use the term “Big Boy Football” or “Big Boy or Better” as a descriptive term in an article. Now you will know exactly what I mean.

  • The “at-large” Big Boy Teams are A&M and West Virginia since they have proven on the field that they can win at that level.
  • It’s noteworthy that 5 SEC Teams are in the Big Boy level this year to go along with their 1 Elite Team, Alabama.
  • The ACC only has 1 Big Boy Team, Syracuse, to go along with their elite team, Clemson

Fringe Top 25 Teams (3rd Tier). This tier includes the remaining teams in the Final AP Top 25 and any team with a winning record that has defeated a Final AP Top 25 Team.

  • This shows a down year for the ACC as Duke is only the 3rd ACC team to show up in either of the first 3 tiers. The last time only 3 ACC teams made the first 3 tiers was in 2015 (CU, FSU, UNC), but they were all Big Boy or better.
  • The Big 10 has 4 teams on the Fringe Top 25 level.
  • 7 non-Power 5 teams are on the Fringe Top 25 level to go with UCF and Notre Dame to make 9 non-P5 teams at Fringe 25 or better. This ties last year for most non-P5 teams at Fringe 25 or better since the Big East was dismantled.

Mediocre Teams (4th Tier) are any team left with a winning record (or any team with a .500 record that has beaten an FBS team with a winning record). Collective Opinion now becomes tied to a team’s record with one simple question: winner or loser?

Every year, there is a tier that has more teams than normal. Last year it was “Weak Teams.” The year before that it was “Fringe 25 Teams.” This year, it is “Mediocre Teams.” In fact, at 50 teams, this is the highest number of “Mediocre Teams” ever.

My theory as to why that is lies with the number of teams making the jump from FCS to FBS. Many of these teams are going to be good enough to win games in their conference, but not good enough to beat a Fringe 25 or better team. So with all of these new teams in the FBS, I think we’re going to continue to see the “Mediocre” and “Weak” tiers overflowing.

Is that good for college football? I don’t think so. I think that this lends credence to the argument that FBS teams should not be allowed to schedule FCS teams anymore. There are enough of them in the FBS now. These teams are taking bowl slots and being ranked over P5 teams because of their record. It’s time to either make P5 and non-power 5 teams play each other more often, or break the P5 teams away from the non-power 5 teams altogether.

Also, I see you South Carolina.

Weak Teams (5th Tier) are any team left with a .500 record or any team with a losing record that has defeated an FBS team with a winning record. These are your losers with a pulse. They have proven they can beat a winning team, but most of the time, they fall short.

Bottom Feeders (6th and Bottom Tier) are teams that have a losing record and did not beat an FBS team with a winning record.

Now that we have the foundation in place, the next post will be a Clemson-centric look at all of this.

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