Commentary

FBO: Texas chooses easier road to top

The new Big 12 will increase the BCS title chances of its elite teams, like Horns

Originally Published: June 15, 2010
By Brian Fremeau | Football Outsiders
Getty ImagesWhen Will Muschamp takes over the Longhorns down the road, he'll be facing a Big 12 more favorable to deep BCS runs.

The Texas Longhorns were the grand prize in the conference realignment sweepstakes, and in the end, they elected to keep their value all to themselves. Reports indicate that Texas will make more money by remaining in a 10-team Big 12 than it would by joining the Pac-10 or any of the other rumored suitors. But are the remaining members better off from a football perspective?

Measuring the strength of a conference is not something that is easily agreed upon. Is a conference as good as its best team or teams? Is it as strong as its bottom teams? Is a conference with a deep middle tier more difficult to navigate than one with a few elite teams and a number of also-rans? At Football Outsiders, our F/+ ratings were developed as a combination of separate drive-based and play-by-play-based systems, and provide a solid metric to help resolve these debates.

We also have a unique strength of schedule methodology that measures a group of opponents from the top down. Defeating one elite team and one weak team is more difficult than defeating two average teams. We can apply the same principle to a conference by measuring the likelihood that an elite program would be able to go undefeated against an entire conference. By this measure, the size, depth and upper tier of a conference are all part of the analysis.


How does the new Big 12 stack up against the other elite conferences? What does the smaller group mean for the BCS title chase? For answers, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com