Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2014.
Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2014.
We are presenting a series ranking the “best” fan bases in college football. The study uses data from the past ten years and the rankings are based on Revenue Premium Brand Equity. For more information on the analysis/methodology, please click here.
While the ACC is best known as a basketball conference, the economics of college sports are primarily driven by football. So, who in this “basketball” conference has the most loyal and supportive football fans?
Number one on the list are the Clemson Tigers. In the past decade, Clemson has had very good attendance and revenues in comparison to what would be expected from a team then tends to be just above average on the field. Clemson’s revenues are especially good given that they operate in the ACC (and lack the revenues from being part of the Big Ten network or an SEC television contract). In comparison to other major ACC programs, Clemson has revenues that are in the range of 30%-60% higher. Second on the list are the Virginia Tech Hokies. Virginia Tech has revenues that are very similar to Clemson, but the Hokies have been significantly more successful on the field. As a reminder, our approach controls for team quality when assessing fan support (it’s easy to be an Alabama fan but it takes character to be a Duke Football fan).
In third and fifth place, we have two new entrants to the conference. Syracuse is ranked third, and Pitt comes in ranked fifth. Syracuse finishes relatively high because their fans continue to support a team that has often struggled over the past decade. The high rank of these two entrants suggests that the ACC making very good expansion decisions.
The two Florida schools are interesting cases. Prior to running the numbers, we would have thought that Miami and FSU would have been the leaders of the conference. The issue is that despite the success these programs have experienced on the field, their revenues are not exceptional. For example, Miami invests a great deal in their program, almost always participates in bowl games (and many major bowls), but attendance is regularly far short of capacity.
The University of Maryland being near the bottom of the rankings is another remarkable story. The new entrants (Syracuse & Pitt) seem to be better football schools than Maryland, so by some measures the ACC has been a realignment winner. On the other hand, the Big Ten wants Maryland (and Rutgers) not so much for the schools’ current fan bases but for the schools’ locations in major media markets.
Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2013.
COMING SOON: RANKING THE AAC
Over the next week or so, we will be publishing analyses of the “best” fan bases in college football. Our plan is to go conference by conference, and talk about which teams have the most loyal fans. Our approach is data and statistically driven, as we will be looking at how fans support their teams after controlling for how well the team performs. The series will conclude with an overall ranking of teams.
Before we get to the team rankings we wanted to start with an analysis of conferences. Beyond regional pride, our conference rankings are related to the topic of conference realignment. Conferences are the sum of their parts with some added bonus due to the synergies the overall group creates. Our fan equity analyses therefore provide a means for anticipating how new or changed conferences will compare with each other.
For those that have previously seen our other brand equity analyses, we should note that our conference-level analysis takes a slightly different approach. For the fan analyses, we build a statistical model that predicts team revenues as a function of metrics related to team performance such as winning percentage and bowl participation. We then compare actual revenues to what is predicted based purely on team performance (and other factors such as number of students, capacity, etc…). Click here for an explanation of why we use this “revenue premium” approach to brand equity measurement.
For the conference analysis, we take a similar, but more financially oriented approach. This analysis also begins with a statistical model of team revenues, but now the explanatory variables primarily involve team expenditures. Team-level brand equity is then taken as the difference between actual revenues and revenues predicted based on expenditures. The logic of this approach is that teams with more powerful brands should be able to more efficiently increase revenues. As an example, imagine a comparison between the University of Notre Dame and perhaps Rutgers. If these teams spent the same amount in a given year, we would still expect Notre Dame to have significantly greater revenues simply because ND has such a large and loyal following.
We rely on this ROI (Return on Investment) oriented measure for the conference ranking because we have a significant interest in conference realignment. In this era of realignment, it seems obvious that conference membership decisions are almost entirely driven by financial considerations. In other words, while we feel that fan support should be measured relative to team performance, when it comes to conferences we believe that schools should be evaluated based on ROI.
Finally on to the rankings…
In an altogether unsurprising result, the SEC is ranked number one, followed by the Big Ten in the second position. The SEC ranking is notable in that while we all know that the SEC has dominated on the field; our results also suggest that the conference schools are extremely efficient in translating the intensity of fans into dollars. On the realignment front, it seems certain that Missouri and Texas A&M were largely driven by the financial attractiveness of the conference. It remains to be seen if these schools have traded cash for also-ran status.
In second place, we have the Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten is in many ways a leader in the space, as they have been successful in creating a network that leverages the appeal of its members. The Big Ten has also been notable in its efforts to attract teams that expand the conference’s access to media markets.
In a distant third place we have the Big 12. The Big 12 is interesting in that it has, and had, several very well-known brands such as Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Of course, the Big 12 has also been the major conference that has seen the most attrition as Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas A&M have all moved to seemingly greener pastures. Despite this attrition, the conference does well in our rankings, and out-performs two of the other Big 5 conferences. The big question for the Big 12 is whether it will be sustainable in the long-term. The Big 12 has two key weaknesses. First, it’s unclear if it covers enough major markets to successfully develop a media strategy that will allow the conference schools to be competitive with other better-located conferences. The second issue is that the Big 12 is very top heavy. Texas is the obvious (financial) jewel of the league. Will Texas share or will the Longhorns go their own way?
In fourth place, we have the PAC 12. The PAC 12 is promising case in that it seems to be well positioned for the future. In terms of teams, it contains both historical powers like USC and up and coming teams like Oregon. The conference also covers major media markets, but its west coast time zone may be a limitation.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in our analysis was that the new American Athletic Conference (AAC) ranked higher than the ACC. This is a non-intuitive finding as we expected that historically successful programs such as Florida State and Miami would lead the ACC past an AAC led by Louisville and Cincinnati. The reason for this result is actually quite simple. The ACC schools have invested in football at about the same level as the Big 12 and PAC 12 schools, but with lower resulting revenues.
Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University, 2013.
The NBA Draft can be a time for college basketball fans to cheer about the “success” of their basketball program. Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, and Kansas fans can boast about the number of alums currently in the NBA. This year, ESPN is taking that discussion one step farther by describing the quality of NBA players produced, and ranking the “NBA Pedigree” of colleges.
Our take is a bit different as we will examine the process of taking high school talent and converting it into NBA draft picks. In other words, we want to understand how efficient are colleges at transforming their available high school talent into NBA draft picks? Today, we launch our NBA draft series by ranking the schools in the ACC based on their ability to convert talent into draft picks.
The initial approach is fairly simple. Each year, (almost) every basketball program has an incoming freshman class. The players in the class have been evaluated by several national recruiting/ranking companies (e.g. Rivals, Scout, etc…). In theory, these evaluations provide a measure of the player’s talent or quality*. Each year, we also observe which players get drafted by the NBA. Thus, we can measure conversion rates over time for each college. Conversion rates may be indicative of the school’s ability to coach-up talent, to identify talent, or to invest in players. These rates may also depend on the talent composition of all of the players on the team. This last factor is particularly important from a recruiting standpoint. Should players flock to places that other highly ranked players have selected? Should they look for places where they have a higher probability of getting on the court quickly? Next week we will present a statistical analysis (logistic regression) that includes multiple factors (quality of other recruits, team winning rates, tournament success, investment in the basketball program, etc…). But for now we will just present simple statistics related to school’s ability to produce output (NBA draft picks) as a function of input (quality of recruits).
Our first set of rankings is for the ACC. At the top of the list we have Boston College and Georgia Tech. Boston College has done a good job of converting low-ranked talent into NBA picks (in this time period they had two three-star players and a non-rated player drafted). Georgia Tech, on the other hand, has converted all of its five-star recruits, and several of its four-star recruits. A result that may at first glance seem surprising is the placement of UNC and Duke. However, upon reflection these results make a good deal of sense. When players choose these “blue blood” programs they face stiff competition for playing time from both current and future teammates.
Here are some questions you probably have about our methodology:
What time period does this represent?
We examined recruiting classes from 2002 to 2011 (this represents the year of graduation from high school). While the chart above ranks the ACC, we compiled data for over 300 Division 1 colleges (over 12,000 players).
How did you compute the conversion rate?
The conversion rate for each school is defined as (Sum of draft picks for the 2002-2011 recruiting classes)/(Weighted Recruiting Talent). Weighted Recruiting Talent is determined by summing the recruiting “points” for each class. These “points” are computed by weighting each recruit by the overall population average probability of being drafted for recruits at that corresponding talent level. We are using ratings data from Rivals.com. The weights for each “type” of recruit were 0.51 for each five star recruit, 0.13 for each four star, 0.03 for each three star, 0.008 for each two star, and 0.004 for each not ranked.
Second-round picks often don’t even make the team. What if you only considered first round picks?
We have also computed the rates using first round picks only, please see the table below.
NEXT: RANKING THE BIG 10
*We can already hear our friends at Duke explaining how players are rated more highly by services just because they are being recruited by Duke. We acknowledge that it is very difficult to get a true measure of a high school player’s ability. However, we also believe that over the last ten years, given all of the media exposure for high school athletes, this problem has attenuated.
Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2013.
For Big Ten rankings and a note on our methodology please click here.
For PAC-12 rankings please click here.
Our series on the Best Fan Bases in college basketball continues with an examination of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Duke Blue Devils are on top, followed by the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Maryland Terrapins. Boston College and Florida State are on the bottom of the rankings. (Note: For additional information on our methodology, click here)
Duke and North Carolina are two of the most storied college basketball programs. Both schools averaged over 25 wins a season during the 2001-2011 time period, and both schools had at least one national championship. Both schools almost always sell out their home games. One of the key differences between the schools is that Duke makes almost double per seat in revenue than North Carolina.
The bottom of the ACC rankings is full of “football” schools (Clemson, Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Florida State). In the time period of our study, Florida State made the NCAA tournament three consecutive years, but still could never get above 80% in average attendance/capacity. This is in a market (Tallahassee) with no professional teams, and where fans often sell out a stadium (Doak Campbell) that seats over 80,000.
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The 2013 NFL Draft has concluded, and we would like to offer our thoughts on the ability of conferences and schools to turn high school talent into NFL Draft Picks. We continue our team-level discussion with an analysis of the ACC.
To reiterate from our previous posts, this is only an analysis of the 2013 NFL Draft. We are examining how many picks were produced by each school, relative to their recruiting classes over the relevant corresponding period for the 2013 Draft. As with any analysis based on essentially a single data point it’s important to remember that these results are more anecdotal than conclusive. That said, the 2013 draft does produce results that are largely consistent with our multiyear statistical study of recruit conversion.
Winners: With 11 picks in the draft, the Seminoles did a good job of converting top talent (they averaged a top ten ranked recruiting class over the relevant period for the 2013 draft). The Tar Heels were the surprising winners of this draft. North Carolina had 5 picks in the draft, and did not average a top 20 recruiting class over the corresponding time period! Thus Carolina was very successful at converting high school talent into picks.
Middle of the Pack: Clemson could almost be placed in the “winner” column. However, they had fewer draft picks than North Carolina, but on average better rated recruiting classes. Duke, Wake Forest, and Virginia only had one pick each, but they also had the lowest rated incoming talent in the ACC.
Losers: Miami attracted a lot of talent, but only produced 2 draft picks. The Terrapins had far superior talent recruited to College Park than Duke, Wake Forest, or Virginia, but they produced the same number of draft picks, one. Boston College and Georgia Tech both had no picks despite averaging top 50 classes over the relevant time period.
By Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2013
Methodology for the study explained here.