College Football/Basketball: Conference Electoral College

Schmolik@@Schmolik64Correspondent IINovember 23, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 22:  Chris Thompson #4 of the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Updated to reflect the ACC inviting Louisville instead of Connecticut as I previously had projected.

Hello, college football/basketball fans!

The Big Ten Conference made waves recently when it invited Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten.

Neither team is a perennial football power and some thought that it was a bad move.

The move also rekindled the rumor of Florida State possibly looking at moving to the Big 12 Conference.

I know many of you reading this feel nothing else matters other than football and you judge a school's worth to a conference by how many wins their football team has.

I think that judgment is short sighted. To me, there is much more to a school than football performance. I don't consider my alma mater, the University of Illinois, any less of a school just because they don't win many football games. 

Remember that sports (college and professional) are cyclical. While there are schools that have been good for a long period of time and vice versa, today's powerhouse can be tomorrow's doormat (and vice versa). Oregon and Boise State were hardly notable in college football 10 years ago.

Meanwhile, schools like Pittsburgh and Tennessee have won national championships before even though neither is considered a top football school today. Syracuse, considered a football laughing stock, has a very proud football tradition (Jim Brown, Larry Csonka and Donovan McNabb).


When it comes to sports, most people love a winner. If Illinois is lousy in football, very few people will watch. If Illinois starts winning again (they are only five years removed from a Rose Bowl appearance), expect fans to watch again. If Illinois has the success Oregon has had the last few years, they will be just as popular, if not more popular since there are far more people who live in Illinois than live in Oregon.

I imagine Notre Dame's ratings have dropped in the last few years and greatly increased this past season.

This is where Rutgers and Maryland come in to the Big Ten. Rutgers is in the New York area while Maryland is right outside of Washington, D.C. (and not far from Baltimore). If either start to do well, expect fans to tune in. At the very least, schools like Michigan and Ohio State will get more media coverage in the East Coast.

Recently, the SEC also invited Texas A&M. It allowed the SEC to gain a Texas presence. The ACC expanded Northeast to Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

Most of you might not think so, but I am convinced that demographics do matter. I believe several commissioners agree with me.

Since we just had a presidential election, I decided to measure the geographical base of each of the five major football conferences. I think Florida State better consider this map before signing on the dotted line with the Big 12.


I took each of the 50 states and determined which conference (or conferences) are represented in each state. If only one conference is represented, I gave that state all of their electoral votes. If more than one conference is represented, I split the votes in a way I felt was appropriate. Feel free to argue or correct me.

For the purposes of this article, I am crediting the ACC with their three new members (Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Louisville) and the Big Ten their two new members (Maryland and Rutgers). Since Notre Dame is a football independent, they are not included. 

The following states have no representatives from one of the big five football conferences:

Alaska 3
Connecticut 7
Delaware 3
District of Columbia 3
Hawaii 4
Idaho 4
Maine 4
Montana 3
Nevada 6
New Hampshire 4
New Mexico 5
North Dakota 3
Rhode Island 4
South Dakota 3
Vermont 3
Wyoming 3


I also will not count D.C.'s three votes to any conference as well.

The following states have representatives from two or more of the five major conferences. I discuss how I split their electoral votes.

Florida (29 electoral votes): SEC (Florida), ACC (Florida State, Miami). There are three Florida schools so I should split their votes in three equal parts. But I consider Florida the top school in Florida among the three so I gave them more votes. I gave the SEC 12 of Florida's votes and the ACC (Florida State and Miami) the other 17.

Georgia (16 electoral votes): SEC (Georgia), ACC (Georgia Tech). The SEC is stronger in the south and Georgia fans are very passionate. So I gave the SEC 10 votes to the ACC's six.

Iowa (six electoral votes): Big Ten (Iowa), Big 12 (Iowa State). I consider Iowa the top school so they get the majority of votes. I gave the Big Ten four votes to the Big 12's two.

Kentucky (8 electoral votes): SEC (Kentucky), ACC (Louisville). Kentucky is the defending college basketball national championship and they are a state (and national) brand (while Louisville may be more a city school). Louisville did come off a Final Four and they are a top athletic program too but Kentucky is more established. I gave the SEC five votes and the ACC three.


Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes): Big Ten (Penn State), ACC (Pittsburgh). Penn State is the biggest school so they get the bulk of the votes. I gave the Big Ten 15 of the 20 votes, with the ACC getting the other five.

South Carolina (9 electoral votes): SEC (South Carolina), ACC (Clemson). Clemson fans will object but the state is not called "Clemson". Also, the SEC is more popular than the ACC. So I gave the SEC five votes to four for the ACC.

Texas (38 electoral votes): Big 12 (Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU), SEC (Texas A&M). With apologies to Texas Tech, Texas and Texas A&M are the two biggest schools in Texas (Texas A&M isn't even third, it's the University of Houston). Baylor and TCU are private schools. So I decided to credit Texas A&M and the SEC with 13 (roughly 1/3) of Texas's votes. The Big 12 gets the other 25.

Here is the breakdown by conference:

Big Ten Conference

Illinois (Illinois, Northwestern) - 20

Ohio (Ohio State) - 18

Michigan (Michigan, Michigan State) - 16


Pennsylvania (Penn State) - 15 (of 20)

New Jersey (Rutgers) - 14

Indiana (Indiana, Purdue) - 11

Maryland (Maryland) - 10

Minnesota (Minnesota) - 10

Wisconsin (Wisconsin) - 10

Nebraska (Nebraska) - 5

Iowa (Iowa) - 4 (of 6)

Total - 133 Electoral Votes



New York (Syracuse) - 29

Florida (Florida State, Miami) - 17 (of 29)

North Carolina (North Carolina, Duke, NC State, Wake Forest) - 15


Virginia (Virginia, Virginia Tech) - 13

Massachusetts (Boston College) - 11

Georgia (Georgia Tech) - 6 (of 16)

Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh) - 5 (of 20)

South Carolina (Clemson) - 4 (of 9)

Kentucky (Louisville) - 3 (of 8)

Total - 103 Electoral Votes



California (California, UCLA, USC, Stanford) - 55

Washington (Washington, Washington State) - 12

Arizona (Arizona, Arizona State) - 11

Colorado (Colorado) - 9

Oregon (Oregon, Oregon State) - 7

Utah (Utah) - 6

Total - 100 Electoral Votes


Texas (Texas A&M) - 13 (of 38)

Florida (Florida) - 12 (of 29)

Tennessee  (Tennessee, Vanderbilt) - 11

Georgia (Georgia) - 10 (of 16)

Missouri (Missouri) - 10

Alabama (Alabama, Auburn) - 9

Louisiana (LSU) - 8

Arkansas (Arkansas) - 6

Mississippi (Mississippi, Mississippi State) - 6

South Carolina (South Carolina) - 5 (of 9)

Kentucky (Kentucky) - 5 (of 8)

Total - 95 Electoral Votes


Big 12

Texas (Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU) - 25 (of 38)

Oklahoma (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State) - 7

Kansas (Kansas, Kansas State) - 6

West Virginia (West Virginia) - 5

Iowa (Iowa State) - 2 (of 6)

Total - 45 Electoral Votes



Based on these numbers, the clear winner is the Big Ten with 133 electoral votes. They have schools in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan, all with 16 or more votes. This past week, they added 24 electoral votes in New Jersey and Maryland. When they added Nebraska, they gained only five votes. Demographically, this expansion was far more valuable than the previous one (I mentioned that in my previous article).

The ACC is slightly ahead of the Pac-12 and SEC (assuming they gain Connecticut as I predict). Syracuse was the biggest addition for the ACC (it gave them New York's 29 votes). They also gained some presence in Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh). The ACC has a footing in Florida and Georgia and have North Carolina and Virginia all to themselves. They did, however, take a small hit in losing Maryland to the Big Ten.


The Pac-12 gets credit for all of California's 55 electoral votes. They also own the other major Western states. Recently, they added Colorado and Utah (an additional 15 votes).

The SEC has a presence in Florida and Texas but have only one team in Florida (compared to the ACC's two) and one team in Texas (compared to the Big 12's four, including the biggest one in the University of Texas). Texas A&M and Missouri added 23 extra electoral votes from their two most recent additions.

The Big 12 has by far the smallest population base of the five major conferences. They are by far the biggest conference in the state of Texas, the second most populous state in the United States. But Texas A&M allowed the SEC to gain a major presence in the state. 


Nebraska and West Virginia have the same amount of electoral votes so the Big 12 essentially traded Nebraska for West Virginia. But the Big 12 lost Missouri to the SEC and Colorado to the Pac-12 recently and didn't replace them. The second most populous state in their geographic footprint is now Oklahoma (Colorado and Missouri have more electoral votes).

Based on these numbers, the ACC is twice as valuable as the Big 12 to Florida State. I would say Florida State is worth 10 electoral votes to a conference. If you give them Florida State's, then the ACC still leads 93 to 55. They will enter a conference with a major presence in Texas but give up their presence all along the East Coast. Now if the SEC were to invite Florida State, that would be better for the Seminoles.

Would it be worth it for the SEC to add Florida State? Florida might not like having to compete with Florida State for recruits. The SEC might want to add teams in states they do not already have a presence in like North Carolina and Virginia.


However, if the SEC takes only one Virginia school, that would only be worth about half of Virginia's electoral votes. There are three major North Carolina schools (I don't consider Wake Forest one) so you figure each is worth approximately 1/3 of North Carolina (at most half). 

I think while the SEC would gain a presence in either state, both states will still have a strong ACC presence. Meanwhile, if the SEC steals Florida State from the ACC, they will have an even larger SEC presence than they already have (the ACC will have just Miami and if they want, South and/or Central Florida). 

I don't think the SEC would be wrong to try to expand to Virginia and/or North Carolina, but I don't think the SEC should close the door on Florida State. In addition, you would keep FSU (and the state of Florida) away from the Big 12.

The Big Ten's expansion may have each of the other major conferences to look at expansion as well. I think each conference would be wise to not only look at wins and losses but demographics as well. Or in other words, to think long term in addition to short term.


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