A Different Look at College Football’s Top 25

As you may, or may not, be aware, the glorious time of the year known as “Football Season” has just officially come to an end.  I know… sad, right? Being someone who is an avid college football fan AND a person that is constantly looking at school health statistics, I sometimes wonder how some of these juggernaut athletic programs stack up against each other in other statistical arenas. So I decided to put it on paper to see what it would look like.  There is really no purpose for this exercise, other than its interesting to look at. The final Associated Press Top 25 college football poll finished like this.

1) Alabama
2) Oregon
3) Ohio State
4) Notre Dame
5) Georgia
6) Texas A&M
7) Stanford
8) South Carolina
9) Florida
10) Florida State
11) Clemson
12) Kansas State
13) Louisville
14) LSU
15) Oklahoma
16) Utah State
17) Northwestern
18) Boise State
19) Texas
20) Oregon State
21) San Jose State
22) Northern Illinois
23) Vanderbilt
24) Michigan
25) Nebraska
So what happens when we take this list and rearrange them based on some university health statistics?  Specifically ones that I routinely look up when it comes to statistics that tend to suggest a strong housing program.  The ones I had in mind were “1st to 2nd  Year Retention” and “Percentage of First Year Students Living in On-Campus Housing.” So why those?  Well, we believe, and have seen, that a strong on campus housing program is core to good university health.  *For more on this topic check out this blog post*
1st to 2nd Year Retention is basically the percentage of freshmen that return to be sophomores.  The key here is that, if a university can get a student to return in year two, they are highly likely to keep them until they graduate.  So here’s what the Top 25 list looks like reshuffled to reflect retention rates:
Stanford 98%
Notre Dame 97%
Northwestern 97%
Vanderbilt 96%
Michigan 96%
Florida 95%
Georgia 94%
Ohio State 93%
Texas A&M 92%
Florida State 92%
Texas 92%
Clemson 90%
South Carolina 87%
San Jose State 87%
Alabama

86%
Oregon 86%
Oklahoma 85%
LSU 84%
Nebraska 84%
Kansas State 82%
Oregon State 81%
Louisville 78%
Utah State 72%
Northern Illinois 71%
Boise State 69%
The Percentage of First Year Students Living in On-Campus Housing is important because the freshman and sophomore classes are the heartbeat of a housing program.  Students we talk to all the time, mention the “community” of a university and how important that is to them.  The 1st and 2nd year in housing is when the foundation of “community” is built.  *click here for more on this topic*

So, again, here is the Top 25 list, rearranged by the Percentage of First Year Students Living in On-Campus Housing.

Stanford 100%
Notre Dame 100%
Vanderbilt 100%
Northwestern 99%
Georgia 98%
Clemson 98%
Michigan 97%
South Carolina 94%
Ohio State 92%
Alabama

92%
Nebraska 92%
Northern Illinois 91%
Florida 88%
Oregon 83%
Oklahoma 82%
Oregon State 79%
Florida State 78%
Kansas State 74%
Louisville 69%
Texas 66%
Texas A&M 62%
LSU 59%
San Jose State 56%
Boise State 54%
Utah State DNR

So if we’re declaring a “national champion” based on these polls Stanford University would take home the trophy, with Notre Dame tied or slightly behind.  In fact, in both of these lists, your top four is almost identical.  Stanford, Notre Dame, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt. Obviously none of this is shocking, because these are all prestigious institutions, and these institutions are amongst the heathiest in the country.  They are likely healthy because of a myriad of reasons, but there is one thing they all have in common… a strong housing program.

What other statistics do you look at when determining the health of a university?