College Football - Champions and Bowl Revenue

2019 Week 2 Dataset and Historical Background

Posted by David Velleca on January 7, 2019

#ThrowbackDataThursday Choose Your Own DataViz Adventure

This week, we're featuring two similar, but separate datasets in our first ever "Choose Your Own DataViz Adventure" challenge. The first looks at the College Football champions from the beginning of the poll era (more on that below) to present. The second looks at the bowl revenue breakout by conference from the end of the BCS era into the College Football Playoff. Whichever you choose, it's sure to be an interesting dataset to look at.

Click here to download the 'Champion' dataset as a CSV from Data.World
Click here to download the 'Champion' dataset as a Hyper Extract from Data.World
Click here to download the 'Revenue' dataset as a CSV from Data.World
Click here to download the 'Revenue' dataset as a Hyper Extract from Data.World

Historical Background

If you're reading this on Monday, December 7, 2019, the 2018-2019 College Football Playoff Championship Game is this evening! What better time to look back on how the champion has been chosen in College Football than right now? Did you know that there are 14 different entities that select a National Champion each year? While most records only recognize 3 of these - The College Football Playoff (CFP) Poll (from 2014 to present), the Associated Press (AP) Poll, and the Coaches Poll - having multiple systems has led to several years where there are multiple champions declared.

This is in large part due to the format of the College Football season, and was only an issue before the advent of the College Football playoff. The playoff was introduced as a mechanism to reduce the likelihood for non-consensus champions by having the best chosen through direct competition. Prior to the College Football Playoff, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) sent the top teams to BCS Bowls, with the intent that the top 2 teams would face off to determine the National Champ. However, this system had its own fair share of controversy, with teams overlooked for BCS games, and in 2003 having different AP and Coaches champions chosen.

Although there were problems or inconsistencies with the BCS system, it was still received as better than the prior system. From the debut of the AP Poll in 1936 through the beginning of the BCS in 1998, the consensus Champions were declared as those that held the number one spot in the final AP and Coaches Polls. Some years, the decision was unanimous, but in several, the polls chose different champions. This is a short writeup, but I think the data can do most of the talking. The Champions dataset looks at the consensus (or unanimous) champions by year from 1936 to 2017. There are sure to be some interesting trends, or dynasties, to be found in the data.

The second dataset looks at the revenue side of the Bowl Season. Not playing for the championship? Teams can still play for the glory of a winning season, or better yet, some revenue of the NCAA's revenue sharing program. This dataset looks at how the bowl revenue was distributed by conference (and Independents where available) from the last year of the BCS through last years CFP. This should also be a pretty interesting dataset.

We'd really love to see what you can do with this week's dataset! Download the data and see what you can do. Create your viz and post your work to Tableau Public and Twitter with the hashtag #ThrowbackDataThursday, tagging @TThrowbackThurs. We're really looking forward to seeing what the Tableau Community can come up with!

Data Source

Both of this week's datasets comes from the NCAA. Please be sure to cite the source on your viz.