The Prestige: We Has It

By Jason Priestas on January 25, 2009 at 7:00 am

As most of you are well aware of by now, your friendly worldwide leader has gone to the trouble of ranking all 119 FBS teams according to the prestige of the program. What is prestige? Many things, of course, but for the purposes of this exercise, 10-win seasons, Heisman trophy winners, first-round draft selections and other factors were considered by the crack ESPN research crew that put this together.

RK Program Pts
1 Oklahoma 1,968
2 USC 1,897
3 Ohio State 1,655
4 Notre Dame 1,579
5 Nebraska 1,553
6 Alabama 1,534
7 Texas 1,494
8 Michigan 1,332
9 Florida State 1,110
10 Miami 1,109

While it's fashionable to bash anything these guys put together (see fake GM interviews for baseball, Title Town USA, etc.) this actually has value. And by value, I mean the ability to generate argument and raging discussions all across the internets.

Take the Wolverines, for instance. Although the program sits atop the all-time victories board, they appear at 8th in the rankings. As you can imagine, Michigan bloggers don't exactly agree with that assessment. Among the many beefs was the decision by ESPN to only go back to 1936, the first season of the AP poll, and that may be a fair point, but you have to define the modern era in some fashion, don't you?

The Buckeyes, of course, are in third, trailing only Oklahoma and USC. I think most of us would agree that's a fair evaluation. Here's what they had to say about Ohio State:

Positives: Dripping with football tradition, Ohio State has been a fixture in the Prestige Rankings for the past half-century. In 1968-69, the Buckeyes racked up 190 points alone. As a point of reference, that's more than the highly successful Boise State program has earned in the last decade combined. OSU is the No. 5 program in the 1970s, and it could have been much higher had it not been for its "Ten-Year War" with Michigan during that time. Even for all the flack that John Cooper received for his 2-10-1 record against Michigan, he is responsible for a boatload of NFL 1st-round draft picks. The recent knock on OSU has been its failure to win the big bowl games, but that hasn't stopped them from finishing in the top 5 in all but two of the last seven seasons. Plus, the five-time national champions should like their spot in the Prestige Rankings ahead of their longtime rival to the north.

Negatives: The Buckeyes would have been a threat for the top spot in our rankings if not for the lack of dominating seasons in the '80s after Woody Hayes was fired. And if they had been able to knock off Florida and LSU in the two recent BCS National Championship Games, the Buckeyes would have really been nipping at USC's heels for the BCS-era crown.

Through the decades: Through 1958: 5th | 1968: 6th | 1978: 6th | 1988: 6th | 1998: 6th

Did you know? Ohio State has just five losing seasons since 1936 (and just two since 1960). That's the fewest among any program that's been around that long.

Why yes, we do appreciate scoring higher than our rivals up north. And what's interesting is according to their system, Cooper was about equal to Bruce was in Columbus. Though many of you might feel different, it's probably closer than you think and if Coop could have won even half of his Michigan games, it's really not even close.

Another thing worth noting is the fine job Tressel has done since arriving. The Buckeyes were 6th in the rankings through the end of the 1998 season and in the last decade have managed to jump Notre Dame, Nebraska and Alabama. Granted, those programs haven't exactly been juggernauts the past 10 years (fun fact for the Irish: since 1995, Northwestern has had more consensus all-Americans), but if Geiger had made a poor hire in 2001 the program would most certainly be sitting in the back half of the top 10 instead of closing on the leaders. Hell, just maintaining Cooper's output would have probably only yielded a jump of Alabama in that group.

So, as bad as things might get on he field from time to time (and remember, we're to the point of considering a failed national championship run a sub-par season), there is still a great deal to be proud of. At least according to a group of guys that report to Howie Schwab.