Identifying the best and worst P5 conferences before kickoff - by the HG Numbers
By John Luke McCord
As you know by now, our analytics use three key categories to rank teams and form our full projections. Those QB stamp, Coach stamp and 3-year recruiting stamp, which come together to form our Overall Team stamps. In this piece we’re going to drive into which power five conference is truly the best, on the doorstep of the 2018 season. First, we’ll see where each P5 conference stands in the three key metrics and then we’ll look at how they rank based on overall team stamps.
So here we go. Let’s start with the signal callers, where I have taken the top six from each P5 league and averaged them together:
1. SEC | 126.9
2. ACC | 91.6
3. Pac-12 | 87
4. Big 10 | 86.3
5. Big 12 | 78.7
The SEC has the nation’s top returning signal caller in Drew Lock, as well as the three QBs who played in the national title game back in January(Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts and Jake Fromm). Don’t sleep on Heisman hopefuls Jarrett Stidham or Nick Fitzgerald in that league either.
While some of the other leagues don’t have the depth at that spot that the SEC does, don’t sleep on the group from the Pac-12. Justin Herbert and Khalil Tate also have their fans thinking about the Heisman trophy. Then there’s under-appreciated veteran Jake Browning, who has already quarterbacked Washington the CFB Playoff once in his career.
Let’s move now to head coaches, where I have also taken the top six from each P5 conference and averaged them together:
1. Big 10 | 115
2. SEC | 86.5
3. Pac-12 | 85
4. ACC | 78
5. Big 12 | 41
Despite also having both coaches that roamed the sideline in the national title back in January, this is the one category mentioned in this piece that the SEC doesn’t hold a lead(spoiler alert).
The SEC has one elite coach - Nick Saban - and the ACC has Dabo Swinney, while the Pac-12 even added Chip Kelly this offseason to round out an impressive top four HCs in that league. However, it’s only fair to shine the light on the Big 10 in this discussion. That league has built an impressive list of coaches, including: Urban Meyer, Paul Chryst, Kirk Ferentz, Jim Harbaugh, James Franklin, Mark Dantonio, Pat Fitzgerald and others.
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Now we can get some of the background information that goes into our next category - Overall Team stamp - which would be how the teams in each league have fared in recruiting the past couple of cycles. Averaging only the top six teams in each conference, here’s how the P5 leagues rank:
1. SEC | 91.4
2. Big 10 | 85.4
Pac-12 | 83.1
4. ACC | 82.8
Big 12 | 77.9
Though many view the top three leagues to be the SEC, B1G and ACC, these numbers could indicate the top teams in the Pac-12 are likely to surprise some this season. But the amount of talent to pick from in California also skews this list a bit. While these numbers also indicate at least one reason the Big 12 is behind the other leagues.
The middle three teams are neck-and-neck, but the SEC shows why it has maintained its status as the best league and the Big 12, as previously mentioned, has work to do.
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Lastly, and perhaps most important in determining which P5 conference is best, is the overall team stamps. This is more of a ranking of the leagues based on teams on the top half of their standing, and not their depth, as I have again averaged these numbers from the top six teams in each league:
1. SEC | 117.1
2. Big 10 | 114.1
T3. ACC | 106.4
T3. Pac 12 | 106.4
5. Big 12 | 92.6
If you’re a power six believer, as conferences in college football go, then you probably felt severely left out by this piece. However, if you’re a realist then you’re probably not surprised to see the SEC sits atop these rankings - or the Big 12 looking up at everyone else for that matter.
With the separate between the SEC and Big 10 at the top, however, don’t be surprised to see the talented group of coaches in the B1G help their conference maneuver ahead here. Perhaps the real surprise, though, is that the ACC(a league that doesn’t have a deep collection of really good teams) is tied with the Pac-12. But not doubt, the QBs are better and more experienced in the ACC between the two of those leagues.
With the season still to play out, things are sure to go away from script, but at least here’s a look as we prepare to kickoff the 2018 season. For more, check out our full projections for the 2018-19 season.