In January of 2016 we published a piece called The Best College Football Team in Every State, Regardless of Division. The core of this piece was an equation we created — an attempt to level the playing field across the four divisions of college football.
In a lot of ways, it was really about the most successful college football team in in every state, rather than the best. But it inspired a lot interesting discussion, some debate, and a ton of fun.
It's time to do it again.
We will release the updated version of the Best College Football Team in Every State, Regardless of Division before the 2017 college football season kicks off. But before we do that, I thought it would be fun to display the raw data in a few different ways. [divider]
I went back five years to find wins and losses, conference wins and losses, conference championships, national championships, bowl game appearances, playoff appearances, national player of the year awards, and American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year awards for all 679 NCAA college football teams. (I love spreadsheets.) Then I found the address, city, state, zip code, and lat/lng coordinates for every team as well.
This is a pretty big data set. It contains 3,319 rows and 26 columns, and even though not every cell is filled (still waiting on that Washington State National Championship (Go Cougs)), there are still 66,867 unique data points to play with.
I will make some tweaks to the original equation before I create the new 50 States of Football post, so it won't come out for a few weeks. But while we wait I thought it would be fun to look at some the data on a state-by-state basis.
The numbers, charts, and maps below are the combination of every college football team in each state, regardless of division. For example: there are six college football teams in the state of Utah — three from the FBS (Utah, Utah State, BYU), two from the FCS (Weber State, Southern Utah), and one from D2 (Dixie State). Over the past five years, these six teams have a combined record of 185-180, have made 15 postseason appearances (either bowl games or playoffs), and won two conference championships.
Their overall winning percentage of .507 ranks 23rd overall.
So that's the type of thing we're working with here. Let's look at it.
Number of College Football Teams
States With the Most College Football Teams
Pennsylvania is home to an insane number of football teams — mostly from lower divisions. The state is home to three FBS teams, seven FCS, 17 D2 (mostly from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference), and 25 D3 football teams.
Take a look at the state map (each pin is a college football team):
College Football Teams Per Capita
While Pennsylvania can boast more college football teams than any state, it also had the sixth highest population of any state in the 2010 census. So in terms of college football teams per capita, it's less impressive than some others.
College Football Teams Per 1 Million Residents
|State||2010 Census Pop.||Teams||Teams Per 1M People|
|2||District of Columbia||601,767||4||6.647|
States with fewer than 1 million residents are at a huge advantage here, as you can see with South Dakota, District of Columbia (not actually a state, but included here because it has four CFB teams), North Dakota, and Vermont. Pennsylvania still ranks in the top ten however.[divider]
College Football Winning Percentage by State
Top Ten States by Combined Winning Percentage
|State||Teams||Overall W||Overall L||Overall W%|
Vermont?? Really? I was as surprised as you. There are three college football teams in the green mountain state, all compete at the D3 level. Middlebury, Norwich, and Castleton are a combined 87-58 over the past five years, which is the best percentage of any state in the country. Between the three of them they only have two seasons below .500 in five years. That's remarkable.
Postseason Appearances Per Team
Postseasons are counted here as bowl game appearances plus playoff appearances. Here's a look at the top ten, by state: