My 2017 Bracket Picks

My bracket, along with explanations of upset picks and Final Four games:

2017 Bracket

Round 1

UNC-Wilmington over Virginia: Regular season champion with a strong record away from home as well as in close games against one of the slowest paced teams in the field. The pace will keep it close enough for UNCW to have a chance to eke out a win.

USC over SMU: The play-in game is often more beneficial to the participant than the awaiting team for the first round, as there has been a play-in game winner every year since the field expanded to 68 in 2011. I like USC more than Kansas State as this year’s version.

Wichita St over Dayton: Vegas doesn’t even consider this an upset. Horrible seeding by the committee gives Dayton a brutal round 1 draw.

Middle Tennessee over Minnesota: Again, Vegas doesn’t see this as an upset. This year’s version of MTSU is even better than the one that knocked off 2 seed Michigan State last year

Rhode Island over Creighton: Rhode Island is one of the hottest teams in the field coming in.

Vermont over Purdue: Vermont has to be considered the hottest team in the field coming in, as they haven’t lost a game since December.

Michigan St over Miami FL: 9 over 8 isn’t much of an upset, but it’s really hard to see an Izzo team getting bounced in round 1 two years in a row. They’ll find a way to get the W.


Round 2

Michigan over Louisville: This year’s greatest story, winning 4 games in 4 days after a plane crash. Their run continues just a little longer as they avenge their 2013 title game defeat against the Cardinals.

Sweet 16:

Michigan over Oregon: Oregon can only go so far without Chris Boucher. His loss will be felt in a big way in this match-up.

Elite 8:

Arizona over Gonzaga: Avenging an early-season loss, the Wildcats were identified in my ratings as one of the four strongest teams this season.

Kentucky over North Carolina: Another upset featuring a rematch, but this time the same team advances. North Carolina’s resume was a bit inflated due to fortunate scheduling in conference play, and this was validated in a disappointing ACC tournament showing. Meanwhile, Kentucky went out of their way to play everyone in the non-conference, and while they didn’t win all of them they are certainly battle-tested despite cruising through the SEC this year.

Final Four:

Villanova over Arizona: Last year’s champion is back with very strong team. It’ll be tough in a pseudo road game, but the extensive tournament experience will pay off on the biggest stage.

Kansas over Kentucky: Talent vs. Talent. There’s just a little bit more on the Kansas side this year.

Title game:

Villanova over Kansas: My ratings identify these as the two best teams this year, with Villanova receiving the edge as the top team. Will this be vindication for BoW after another bad score in the Bracket Matrix? We’ll find out in about 3 weeks.

Enjoy the madness, everyone!



16 Team Playoff

The number of bowl games has grown to the point where most of them are irrelevant. So much so that players are deciding to skip the lesser games to prepare for their post-college playing careers. Bowl games are supposed to be a reward for a great season; instead they have been watered down to merely an exhibition game that coaches can point to as an achievement to justify bonuses and contract extensions. All of this could be fixed with the implementation of an expanded playoff. I briefly touched on this in an off-season feature, but let’s now take a look at what a 16-team playoff would’ve looked like this year with the following criteria:

  1. All 10 conference champions receive an auto-bid; 6 at-large
  2. Home sites for the first 2 rounds, hosted by the higher seed

Here is what this field would look like:

Auto bids

1 Alabama

2 Clemson

4 Washington

5 Penn State

7 Oklahoma

12 Western Michigan

13 Temple

14 Western Kentucky

15 San Diego State

16 Appalachian State


3 Ohio State

6 Michigan

8 Wisconsin


10 Colorado

11 Florida State

And the bracket:

Round 1

16 Appalachian State at 1 Alabama

9 USC at 8 Wisconsin

12 Western Michigan at 5 Penn State

13 Temple at 4 Washington

11 Florida State at 6 Michigan

14 Western Kentucky at 3 Ohio State

10 Colorado at 7 Oklahoma

15 San Diego State at 2 Clemson

Yes, please! Every game is meaningful, and even in round 1 there are some fantastic match-ups. If the higher seeds advance, Round 2 looks even better:

8 Wisconsin at 1 Alabama

5 Penn State at 4 Washington

6 Michigan at 3 Ohio State

7 Oklahoma at 2 Clemson

We do get a re-match of a regular season game, but it was one of the best games of 2016 and as a traditional rivalry would have massive appeal. If the higher seeds advance in Round 2 we’d have the current playoff bracket. This format gives 15 excellent games, and could completely replace an antiquated bowl system where 38 of the 41 games are essentially exhibitions with only a handful of interesting match-ups.

National Championship Coaches

The following table lists coaches who have already won a national championship by year. Championships recognized in this table are the AP Poll and Coaches Poll for the years prior to the College Football Playoff, and only the CFP champion starting at its inauguration in 2014. A coach’s name is added to the list only in the years after which they earn a national championship. For example, Jimbo Fisher won his first national championship in the 2013 season so his first appearance on this list is in 2014.

5 7 7 7
2016 2015 2014 2013
Nick Saban Nick Saban Nick Saban Nick Saban
Jimbo Fisher Jimbo Fisher Jimbo Fisher Les Miles
Les Miles Les Miles Les Miles Urban Meyer
Urban Meyer Urban Meyer Urban Meyer Bob Stoops
Bob Stoops Bob Stoops Bob Stoops Steve Spurrier
Steve Spurrier Steve Spurrier Mack Brown
Larry Coker Larry Coker Larry Coker
8 10 10 12
2012 2011 2010 2009
Nick Saban Nick Saban Nick Saban Nick Saban
Gene Chizik Dennis Erickson Dennis Erickson Dennis Erickson
Les Miles Gene Chizik Howard Schnellenberger Howard Schnellenberger
Urban Meyer Howard Schnellenberger Urban Meyer Urban Meyer
Bob Stoops Les Miles Les Miles Bobby Bowden
Steve Spurrier Bob Stoops Jim Tressel Les Miles
Mack Brown Joe Paterno Bob Stoops Jim Tressel
Larry Coker Steve Spurrier Joe Paterno Bob Stoops
Mack Brown Steve Spurrier Joe Paterno
Larry Coker Mack Brown Steve Spurrier
Mack Brown
Pete Carroll
13 13 12 10
2008 2007 2006 2005
Nick Saban Nick Saban Howard Schnellenberger Howard Schnellenberger
Dennis Erickson Dennis Erickson Bobby Bowden Bobby Bowden
Howard Schnellenberger Howard Schnellenberger Dennis Erickson Larry Coker
Urban Meyer Urban Meyer Larry Coker Lloyd Carr
Bobby Bowden Bobby Bowden Lloyd Carr Jim Tressel
Les Miles Lloyd Carr Jim Tressel Bob Stoops
Jim Tressel Jim Tressel Bob Stoops Joe Paterno
Bob Stoops Bob Stoops Joe Paterno Steve Spurrier
Joe Paterno Joe Paterno Steve Spurrier Phil Fulmer
Steve Spurrier Steve Spurrier Phil Fulmer Pete Carroll
Phil Fulmer Phil Fulmer Mack Brown
Mack Brown Mack Brown Pete Carroll
Pete Carroll Pete Carroll
11 9 9 9
2004 2003 2002 2001
Howard Schnellenberger Howard Schnellenberger Howard Schnellenberger Howard Schnellenberger
Bobby Bowden Bobby Bowden Bobby Bowden Steve Spurrier
Nick Saban Larry Coker Larry Coker Bobby Bowden
Larry Coker Lloyd Carr Lloyd Carr Lloyd Carr
Lloyd Carr Jim Tressel Bob Stoops Bob Stoops
Jim Tressel Bob Stoops Dennis Erickson Dennis Erickson
Bob Stoops Joe Paterno Joe Paterno Joe Paterno
Joe Paterno Lou Holtz Lou Holtz Lou Holtz
Lou Holtz Phil Fulmer Phil Fulmer Phil Fulmer
Phil Fulmer
Pete Carroll
8 8 5 6 8
2000 1999 1998 1997 1996
LaVell Edwards LaVell Edwards LaVell Edwards Danny Ford Gene Stallings
Steve Spurrier Steve Spurrier Steve Spurrier LaVell Edwards Danny Ford
Bobby Bowden Bobby Bowden Bobby Bowden Steve Spurrier LaVell Edwards
Lloyd Carr Lloyd Carr Lloyd Carr Bobby Bowden Bobby Bowden
Dennis Erickson Dennis Erickson Joe Paterno Tom Osborne Tom Osborne
Joe Paterno Joe Paterno Joe Paterno Lou Holtz
Lou Holtz Lou Holtz Joe Paterno
Phil Fulmer Phil Fulmer Johnny Majors
9 10 9 8
1995 1994 1993 1992
Gene Stallings Gene Stallings Gene Stallings LaVell Edwards
Danny Ford Danny Ford Danny Ford Bill McCartney
LaVell Edwards LaVell Edwards LaVell Edwards Howard Schnellenberger
Bobby Bowden Bill McCartney Bill McCartney Dennis Erickson
Tom Osborne Bobby Bowden Howard Schnellenberger Lou Holtz
Lou Holtz Howard Schnellenberger Dennis Erickson Joe Paterno
Howard Schnellenberger Dennis Erickson Lou Holtz Johnny Majors
Joe Paterno Lou Holtz Joe Paterno Don James
Johnny Majors Joe Paterno Johnny Majors
Johnny Majors
7 6 6
1991 1990 1989
LaVell Edwards LaVell Edwards LaVell Edwards
Bill McCartney Howard Schnellenberger Danny Ford
Howard Schnellenberger Dennis Erickson Howard Schnellenberger
Dennis Erickson Lou Holtz Lou Holtz
Lou Holtz Joe Paterno Joe Paterno
Joe Paterno Johnny Majors Johnny Majors
Johnny Majors
8 7
1988 1987
LaVell Edwards LaVell Edwards
Danny Ford Danny Ford
Vince Dooley Vince Dooley
Howard Schnellenberger Howard Schnellenberger
Jimmy Johnson Barry Switzer
Barry Switzer Joe Paterno
Joe Paterno Johnny Majors
Johnny Majors

The 2007 and 2008 seasons saw the most active national championship coaches, with 13. That number has been declining in the years since for a few reasons. First, coaching careers are now much shorter than in previous decades. Gene Chizik was fired two year after adding his name to this list; that wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago. Next, only 1 team per year has been recognized as a champion in recent years whereas it used to be common to see a split champion in the two major polls. Finally, the best coaches tend to continue to win. Urban Meyer and Nick Saban have won 6 of the last 8 championships.

The Best Dual Sports Schools

I’ve wanted an answer to this for a long time, but since I haven’t been able to find compiled data I decided to do it myself and answer the question: Which school has the best combination of football and men’s basketball? The answer depends on the time frame used, so I looked at it from a number of perspectives. I don’t particularly care about the success of teams from too far back in history so I only went back 30 years (also it takes a pretty long time to process all of this data and at 30 years I was tired of gathering).

My criteria for determining the best dual-sports schools is fairly simple; I took the winning percentage for football and men’s basketball for the year and averaged those numbers. For cumulative years (i.e. intervals of 5 years to 30 years), I took the cumulative winning percentages and averaged those. I only included schools who played basketball at the Division 1 level all 30 years. Additionally, schools that didn’t play football at the FBS level were assigned a football winning percentage of .000 for the years not participating at that level. This filtering resulted in a list of 123 schools, shown in the table below.

The 1 year column is a ranking by average winning percentage for the 2015-16 school year. It should come as no surprise that Michigan State and Oklahoma top this list, as both had top 5 or so teams in both sports.

The 5 years column is a ranking by average winning percentage for the most recent 5 school years, going back to the 2011-12 school year. The table continues in this matter in 5 year increments going back to the 1986-87 school year. Ohio State has clearly shown the most historical success over the last 30 years, despite a recent drop-off due mostly to men’s basketball. In fact, Ohio State is the only school to average above .700 winning percentage for each of the increments in the table below. This suggests that they are rarely down for long.

The most surprising school to me was Notre Dame. I would’ve expected them to be near the top in every increment but they never rank higher than 12th, which came in the most recent year.

I plan to do some further analysis on the data to find interesting trends, and will post what I find. I also plan to update this annually. Next year’s update will more closely follow the conclusion of the men’s basketball season.

Rank 1 year 5 years 10 years 15 years 20 years 25 years 30 years
1 Michigan State Oregon Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State
2 Oklahoma Michigan State Wisconsin Oklahoma Florida Florida Oklahoma
3 Houston Ohio State Boise State Florida Oklahoma Oklahoma Florida
4 North Carolina Louisville Brigham Young Wisconsin Wisconsin Texas Florida State
5 Iowa Wisconsin Florida Boise State Texas Wisconsin Texas
6 Ohio State Baylor Oregon Texas Oregon Florida State Michigan
7 San Diego State Alabama Michigan State Louisville Boise State Utah Brigham Young
8 Utah Florida State Louisville Oregon Michigan State Brigham Young Alabama
9 Oregon Oklahoma Oklahoma Brigham Young Louisville Louisville Arizona
10 Clemson San Diego State Alabama Louisiana State Utah Michigan Miami (FL)
11 Alabama Stanford Texas Michigan State Florida State Alabama Louisville
12 Notre Dame Boise State Florida State Alabama Brigham Young Oregon Syracuse
13 Navy Notre Dame Notre Dame Pittsburgh Louisiana State North Carolina Nebraska
14 Baylor Cincinnati Clemson Florida State Miami (FL) Michigan State Notre Dame
15 Michigan Louisiana State West Virginia Notre Dame Cincinnati Miami (FL) UCLA
16 Wisconsin Brigham Young Louisiana State Cincinnati Alabama Nebraska Michigan State
17 Brigham Young Arizona Cincinnati Utah Tennessee Arizona Utah
18 Mississippi Clemson Missouri Georgia Notre Dame UCLA North Carolina
19 Northwestern North Carolina Oklahoma State West Virginia Georgia Cincinnati Tennessee
20 Louisiana Tech Duke Pittsburgh Oklahoma State Michigan Notre Dame Oregon
21 Miami (FL) Michigan Arizona Southern California West Virginia Tennessee Wisconsin
22 Western Kentucky Louisiana Tech Texas A&M Miami (FL) Oklahoma State Georgia Georgia
23 Texas A&M Florida San Diego State Clemson Arizona Syracuse Clemson
24 Toledo Toledo North Carolina Michigan North Carolina Kansas Louisiana State
25 West Virginia Georgia Stanford Missouri Stanford Louisiana State West Virginia
26 Akron Kansas State Georgia UCLA UCLA West Virginia Arkansas
27 Florida State Oklahoma State Baylor Stanford Pittsburgh Kansas State Stanford
28 Georgia UCLA Southern California Virginia Tech Kansas State Stanford Kansas
29 Louisville Ohio Kansas State Connecticut Nebraska Virginia Tech Iowa
30 Stanford Houston UCLA Tennessee Virginia Tech Clemson Auburn
31 Temple Texas A&M Houston Arizona Southern California Oklahoma State Cincinnati
32 Louisiana State Miami (FL) Virginia Tech Iowa Clemson Southern California Oklahoma State
33 Boise State Georgia Southern Utah Kansas State Syracuse Kentucky Penn State
34 Duke Utah State Michigan North Carolina Connecticut Auburn Southern California
35 Florida Middle Tennessee Kentucky Kansas Kansas Iowa Texas A&M
36 California Western Kentucky Duke Maryland Texas Christian Texas A&M Virginia Tech
37 Marshall Iowa Kansas Memphis Kentucky Arkansas Kentucky
38 Arizona Missouri Texas Christian Texas A&M Missouri Penn State Kansas State
39 Ohio Mississippi Tulsa Texas Christian Auburn Pittsburgh Pittsburgh
40 Middle Tennessee Syracuse Ohio Kentucky Maryland Missouri Virginia
41 Pittsburgh Louisiana-Lafayette Miami (FL) Nebraska Iowa Toledo Fresno State
42 Memphis South Carolina Tennessee Nevada Mississippi Texas Christian Duke
43 Indiana West Virginia Arkansas San Diego State Arkansas Virginia Missouri
44 Texas Christian Northern Illinois Nebraska Syracuse Toledo Texas Tech Toledo
45 Cincinnati Utah Nevada Auburn Texas A&M Fresno State North Carolina State
46 Northern Illinois Texas Connecticut Duke Marshall Nevada Georgia Tech
47 Southern California Arkansas State Mississippi Texas Tech Fresno State Memphis Texas Christian
48 Bowling Green State Pittsburgh Penn State Arkansas Utah State Mississippi Washington
49 Nevada Virginia Middle Tennessee California Duke Maryland Southern Mississippi
50 Kentucky Washington Memphis South Carolina Memphis Duke Mississippi
51 Connecticut Memphis Utah State Boston College Texas Tech Georgia Tech Texas Tech
52 Oklahoma State Colorado State Iowa North Carolina State Georgia Tech Boston College Memphis
53 Georgia Southern Arkansas Syracuse Hawaii Southern Mississippi Washington Illinois
54 Mississippi State Kentucky South Carolina Mississippi North Carolina State Utah State Arizona State
55 Appalachian State Arizona State Temple Houston Penn State Tulsa Maryland
56 Tennessee North Carolina State Central Florida Utah State Boston College North Carolina State Louisiana Tech
57 Texas Tech Marshall California Fresno State Nevada Purdue Purdue
58 Virginia Texas Christian Auburn Toledo Virginia California Tulsa
59 Arkansas Temple Maryland Tulsa Purdue Mississippi State California
60 Virginia Tech Nebraska Arizona State Central Florida San Diego State Bowling Green State Colorado State
61 Washington Appalachian State Mississippi State Georgia Tech California Arizona State Bowling Green State
62 Tulsa Bowling Green State Western Kentucky Middle Tennessee Louisiana Tech Southern Mississippi Utah State
63 UCLA Mississippi State Louisiana Tech Arizona State Washington Colorado State South Carolina
64 Old Dominion Central Florida Southern Mississippi Virginia Tulsa New Mexico Boston College
65 New Mexico Northwestern Georgia Tech Bowling Green State Arizona State Western Michigan Mississippi State
66 Colorado State Tulsa Washington Ohio Ohio San Diego State Indiana
67 Hawaii Vanderbilt Navy Louisiana Tech Mississippi State Illinois Colorado
68 Central Michigan East Carolina Texas Tech Baylor South Carolina Louisiana Tech Hawaii
69 Arkansas State Southern California North Carolina State Washington Colorado State Miami (OH) Western Michigan
70 Penn State Tennessee Purdue Southern Mississippi Central Florida South Carolina Wyoming
71 North Carolina State Penn State Northwestern Marshall New Mexico Hawaii New Mexico
72 Texas Minnesota Virginia Penn State Middle Tennessee Ohio Ball State
73 Western Michigan Maryland Marshall Mississippi State Hawaii Colorado San Diego State
74 Air Force Nevada Vanderbilt Air Force Air Force Air Force Houston
75 Southern Methodist Virginia Tech Kent State Kent State Bowling Green State Wake Forest Miami (OH)
76 Maryland Iowa State Hawaii Illinois Minnesota Minnesota Air Force
77 Georgia State Indiana Air Force New Mexico Illinois Baylor Baylor
78 Texas-El Paso California Western Michigan Purdue Western Michigan Indiana Nevada-Las Vegas
79 South Carolina Southern Methodist Fresno State Northern Illinois Houston East Carolina Minnesota
80 Washington State Georgia Tech Arkansas State Minnesota Navy Houston Wake Forest
81 Utah State Connecticut East Carolina Western Michigan Wake Forest Ball State Louisiana-Lafayette
82 Kansas State Old Dominion Toledo Northwestern Akron Wyoming Ohio
83 Fresno State Fresno State New Mexico Wake Forest Colorado Navy Texas-El Paso
84 Syracuse Kent State Bowling Green State Akron Miami (OH) Iowa State Akron
85 Colorado Akron Louisiana-Lafayette Louisiana-Lafayette Baylor Louisiana-Lafayette East Carolina
86 Idaho New Mexico Akron Temple Kent State Nevada-Las Vegas Iowa State
87 Nebraska Western Michigan Texas-El Paso Oregon State Iowa State Vanderbilt Temple
88 Arizona State Auburn Central Michigan Colorado State Temple Akron Northern Illinois
89 New Mexico State Southern Mississippi Oregon State Arkansas State Wyoming Texas-El Paso Navy
90 Southern Mississippi Navy Boston College Navy Oregon State Temple Vanderbilt
91 Purdue Air Force Northern Illinois Texas-El Paso Texas-El Paso Washington State Washington State
92 Vanderbilt Wyoming Illinois Vanderbilt Northwestern Northern Illinois Kent State
93 Iowa State Oregon State Rutgers Iowa State East Carolina Northwestern Oregon State
94 Auburn Texas-El Paso Minnesota Nevada-Las Vegas Arkansas State New Mexico State Central Michigan
95 Louisiana-Lafayette Kansas Colorado State South Florida Louisiana-Lafayette Arkansas State Rutgers
96 Kansas Illinois Nevada-Las Vegas Rutgers Northern Illinois Kent State New Mexico State
97 Illinois Ball State Indiana Colorado Vanderbilt Rutgers Northwestern
98 South Florida Rutgers Wake Forest Indiana Indiana Oregon State Rice
99 Ball State Central Michigan Iowa State East Carolina Nevada-Las Vegas Rice Southern Methodist
100 Kent State Texas Tech Ball State Washington State Ball State Central Michigan Eastern Michigan
101 South Alabama Hawaii Southern Methodist Central Michigan Southern Methodist Southern Methodist San Jose State
102 Georgia Tech Purdue Wyoming Ball State Washington State Louisiana-Monroe Connecticut
103 Nevada-Las Vegas New Mexico State South Florida Wyoming New Mexico State North Texas Army
104 East Carolina Nevada-Las Vegas Texas-San Antonio North Texas Rutgers Connecticut Western Kentucky
105 Rice Rice New Mexico State Miami (OH) Central Michigan Eastern Michigan Boise State
106 Oregon State Colorado Washington State New Mexico State Rice San Jose State Old Dominion
107 San Jose State South Alabama North Texas Southern Methodist North Texas Army Massachusetts
108 Army North Texas Texas State Rice Louisiana-Monroe Western Kentucky Middle Tennessee
109 Louisiana-Monroe Georgia State Rice Louisiana-Monroe Idaho Old Dominion Charlotte
110 Missouri Texas State Colorado San Jose State San Jose State Massachusetts Nevada
111 Texas State Texas-San Antonio Louisiana-Monroe Eastern Michigan Eastern Michigan Boise State South Alabama
112 Minnesota Washington State Army Western Kentucky Army Charlotte Marshall
113 Massachusetts Louisiana-Monroe San Jose State Army Western Kentucky Middle Tennessee Arkansas State
114 Miami (OH) Massachusetts Massachusetts Idaho Old Dominion South Alabama Georgia Southern
115 Eastern Michigan Wake Forest Miami (OH) Old Dominion Charlotte Central Florida Texas-San Antonio
116 Wake Forest Eastern Michigan Idaho Massachusetts South Alabama Georgia State Appalachian State
117 Wyoming South Florida Eastern Michigan Charlotte Massachusetts Marshall Central Florida
118 Charlotte San Jose State Old Dominion South Alabama Georgia State Appalachian State Louisiana-Monroe
119 Rutgers Army South Alabama Georgia State Appalachian State Texas-San Antonio Georgia State
120 Boston College Boston College Georgia State Georgia Southern Georgia Southern Georgia Southern Idaho
121 North Texas Idaho Appalachian State Appalachian State Texas-San Antonio Texas State North Texas
122 Texas-San Antonio Miami (OH) Charlotte Texas-San Antonio Texas State Idaho Texas State
123 Central Florida Charlotte Georgia Southern Texas State South Florida South Florida South Florida