Ole Miss and Mississippi State catapulted into the Top 5 of the AP and Coaches’ Polls this week, thanks to victories over Alabama and Texas A&M last Saturday. Mississippi’s top 2 programs have now joined Auburn, Baylor, and Florida State as the leading candidates for college football’s inaugural Final Four.
It should come as no surprise to college football fans that schools from the Gulf Coast are dominating the national championship conversation in 2014. During the BCS era (1998-2013), schools from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas claimed the college football national championship 12 times out of 16 seasons. Whenever a school from the other 45 states won a BCS national title, their opponent in the BCS championship game was almost always a Gulf Coast program: USC’s now-vacated Orange Bowl win over Oklahoma in 2005 marks the only time that the Gulf Coast was not officially represented at a BCS championship game (though, technically, nearly 40% of OU’s roster is recruited from Texas).
College football’s newly appointed “Blue Ribbon” committee ought to follow this unwritten rule: the Gulf Coast deserves at least two spots in college football’s Final Four. Though the SEC West should never have more than one team slated for the national playoff bracket, a second spot in the Final Four should almost always go to the best remaining team in Texas or Florida.
We don’t make this pronouncement based on mere bias—we look to the recent track record of Gulf Coast schools. Schools from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas have strung together nine consecutive national championships since 2005. And if you look at the current AP and Coaches’ Polls, right now the Gulf Coast owns a monopoly on the Top 5 rankings in 2014.
That’s why we’ve decided on PFPod.com to create a weekly featured called the “State of the Gulf.” We’ll list every Gulf Coast program receiving votes in the latest Coaches’ and AP Polls, and rank them order of combined points earned that week. We’ll then calculate the Gulf Coast’s “market share” out of the AP and Coaches’ Polls (i.e., the percentage of points that Gulf Coast programs have earned from all poll voters).
Since only 30 of the 128 FBS programs are located in the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, schools from these states should account for slightly less than 24% of the available points in the two major polls. Our “State of the Gulf” feature will highlight just how much Gulf Coast college football teams outperform the other 98 schools from 45 other states.
This week, our inaugural column shows that the Gulf Coast owns a whopping 48.9% of the combined Polls’ points. At this rate, we might see three Gulf Coast schools in this year’s Final Four:
School/ TOTAL Pts.
1. FSU/ 2966
2. Auburn/ 2936
3. Baylor/ 2630
4. Ole Miss/ 2628
5. Miss.St./ 2557
6. Alabama/ 2125
7. TCU/ 1844
8. Texas A&M/ 1437
9. LSU/ 110
STATE OF THE GULF: These 9 Gulf Coast schools received 19,233 points, which is 48.9% of the 39,325 points awarded in the AP and Coaches’ Polls! 4 Gulf Coast schools (FSU, Auburn, Baylor, and Mississippi State) account for 100% of the 1st place votes placed in both major polls.