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NCAA Football 12 Team Ratings Look Suspect, Starting With Boise State's Prestige

By now you've probably seen this list of reported NCAA Football 12 team ratings. I'm not entirely familiar with the outlet doing the reporting here, but that's not the only thing making me raise an eyebrow or three. While the team ratings for the Georgia Bulldogs (A+ special teams!) and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (beeeeees!) make sense, and giving Oklahoma and Alabama A+ overall ratings is silly because it grades on a one-year curve rather than an all-time curve (would the 2001 Miami Hurricanes be rated OMFG+?), one thing won't stop bugging me: that five-star prestige rating given to the Boise St. Broncos.


At the risk of offending our Chick-fil-A College Kickoff guests, that is way too high a rating for a Mountain West school with 13 winning seasons and four non-Humanitarian bowl wins in its entire FBS history.

What's a prestige rating? The game uses a handful of program ratings to come up with an overall prestige rating, which serves as a way to quantify a school's desirability for both head coaches and recruits.

If Boise State is a five-star school, that means coaches from four-star schools like Stanford, Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia Tech would be likely to accept a job offer from the Broncos. Can you imagine any scenario in which Bobby Petrino, Derek Dooley, Paul Johnson or the departed Jim Harbaugh willingly leave their schools to head to Boise? Harbaugh had a hard enough time deciding to leave Stanford to take the San Francisco 49ers gig.

Chris Petersen makes $1.6 million per year. Petrino makes more than twice that. Coincidentally, in 1997, Houston Nutt left Boise to take over at Arkansas, though that's too long ago to really have anything to do with anything.

And as far as I can tell, Boise State recruiting classes have never ranked in Rivals' top 50.

This isn't an attack on Boise State as a football program, but on the way it's presented in a vidya game, which matches the way it's been presented in other media. When it suits ESPN's interests, Boise State is presented as a program on par with any in the nation. Distinguishing on-field performance from program strength shows us this simply isn't true.

It could be said Boise succeeds despite lacking the traits that traditionally define a good football program. Let's just say that. Rate Petersen an A+ and Kellen Moore an A, but don't pretend Boise's program is just a step short of those of Alabama, Florida, Texas and Ohio State.


Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.