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College football teams are defined by the company they keep

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A look at what you can learn about your team by the teams ranked around you.

Ezra Shaw

In many ways, we are defined by the company we keep. So is your college football team. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who happens to be a fan of a rival school. He was struggling to come up with a program that my team was roughly equivalent to.

That got me to thinking. Brian Fremeau has a great page on his site listing the 5-year Program Ratings for each team from 2007 to 2012 (or more accurately, for the 5 years ended in 2007 through the 5 years ended in 2012). For example, for the five years ended 2012, Fremeau's system says the top 5 programs in college football were:

  1. Alabama
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Oregon
  4. LSU
  5. Florida

I thought it would be interesting to check out the "neighbors" for each team for each team covered in Fremeau's study. In other words, in each of the 5-year periods, what other programs were most similar to yours?

As an example, let's look at two teams. One on the rise, one on the decline (click on the images to make them bigger):

First, on the rise: Stanford. In the 5-year period ended in 2007, they were neighbors with Tulsa, Hawaii, Ole Miss, and Illinois. By the 5-year period ended in 2012, they had moved into a much nicer neighborhood: Florida, Oklahoma State, Florida State, and Ohio State.


Now, on the decline: Cal. The Bears used their NFL talent in early to mid 2000s to rub elbows with Michigan, Clemson, and Wisconsin. Now, they downsized into a smaller home down the street from the likes of Iowa State and Temple.


Okay, I think you a) get it by now and b) are sick of my 'neighbor' references. Have some fun on your own. You can use this Google spreadsheet to find out who your team's neighbors are. Enjoy:*

*One quick note: I had to protect certain parts of the spreadsheet so that you don't accidentally disrupt the formulas. That is easy, but it makes your view look like this:


To remove the annoying gray lines, you must uncheck  View -> Protected Ranges. It should be that easy.