College Football: Subdivision notes, Four Degrees of Tulsa

Some notes on college football as we wait for the draft:

  • There's several subdivisions of College football.  Most college games occur within these subdivisions. 
  • Intra-divisional games are somewhat rare; the upper division wins most of the time.
  • There are draft-quality players outside the top subdivision.
  • Even with 120 teams, the FBS is more interconnected than you might think.

The somewhat interconnected subdivisions

Top tier: Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) 

This had 120 teams in 2010. Including Bowl games, there were 718 FBS vs FBS games.  Most draft picks come from the FBS.

Second tier: Football Championship Subdivision (FCS)

A mostly separate group of 125 teams (in 2010).  Still, there's a fair bit of schedule overlap with the FBS. As expected, the FBS team wins most of the time.  In 2010, the FBS beat the FCS 83-7 (.922).

80 FBS teams played one FCS team  (75 went 1-0,  5 went 0-1)
5 FBS teams played two FCS teams ( 3 went 2-0, 2 went 1-1)
60 FCS teams played one FBS team ( 5 went 1-0, 55 went 0-1)
15 FCS teams played two FBS teams (13 went 0-2, 2 went 1-1)

All FCS-over-FBS victories were by five points or less. Only one of the seven victims of the FCS had a winning record[1].  

However, the draft is all about players, not teams.  The NFL is willing to overlook the FCS being the FBS's chew toy when looking for talent.  According to Sporting News Draft magazine, 19 picks from the 2010 draft came from the FCS. This includes second round pick Vladimir Ducasse.


Third tier: Division II

I couldn't find any games on the NCAA website where a Division II played a FBS or FCS team.  Still, according to Sporting News Draft magazine, 5 Division II players got drafted in 2009. This includes third round pick Jason Veldheer.

Fourth tier: Division III

According to Sporting News Draft magazine, no players from this division got drafted in 2010--all drafted players came from FBS/FCS/Div II teams.

There were just two Div. III vs. FCS games, which the divisions split 1-1.

Not even in the NCAA

Not all college football teams are in the NCAA.  The FCS beat these teams 20-2.  I also found several Division II/III vs. non-NCAA games.  As far as I can tell, Division II beat non-NCAA teams 54-25. (The Division II section of the NCAA's website seems less than perfect,  with a very small number of the game summary links going to non-existent webpages.  I didn't even bother trying to download games from the Division III section.)


Four Degrees of Tulsa

There's the famous Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, where the object is to connect anybody who has appeared in a movie to Kevin Bacon in six films or less.

There are 120 FBS teams.  That means that there's 7140 different ways to pick two FBS teams. (120 times 119, divided by 2).

Using only FBS vs. FBS games from the 2010 season, it's possible to connect any FBS team to any other FBS team in four links or less.  Usually, you'll need just one or two games, maybe three.

# of matchups
1st degree 10.0% 716
716 of all possible match-ups occurred in 2010.
2nd degree
Team A and Team B both played Team X
3rd degree
Team A played Team X
Team X played Team Y
Team Y played Team B
4th degree
A played X played Y played Z played B

(And, yes, I do have a list of all match-ups and how closely they're connected. With 7140 links, that list is WAY too big to post here.)


[1] The only FBS team with a winning record that lost to an FCS team was Virginia Tech, a team that lost its first game and then lost its second game vs. the James Madison, a FCS team that ended up with a 6-5 record.  

After that embarrassment, Virginia Tech got its poop together and went on to have an inspirational eleven game winning streak.  That took them all the way to the Orange Bowl vs. Stanford. At halftime, Stanford was winning 13-12.  That's when all the wheels fell off of Cinderella's pumpkin. Stanford stomped Virginia Tech in the second half, winning by a final score of 40-12.  

Football is full of powerful stories, even if some of them make you wince.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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