If you’re a Notre Dame fan, there are certain numbers you hope to never see again. Such as 42-14, the final score of ND’s BCS blowout against Alabama. You also wouldn’t likely be a fan of 1.7, which was Notre Dame’s average yard per carry mark against the Crimson Tide, or 265, which was the number of yards Alabama racked up on the ground against the Irish defense (and was one more yard than A.J. McCarron, Bama’s starting quarterback, managed to earn with his arm). January 7 th brought an end to a season Irish fans had been waiting for since before the fall of the Berlin Wall. And given the shellacking the Fighting Irish took from the Crimson Tide, surely the talent disparity would surface during the NFL Draft, right?
The first round talent disparity did surface, with three Alabama players going consecutively in the first round at the 9th, 10th, and 11th positions. Notre Dame only had one first round selection in tight end Tyler Eifert, selected by the Cincinnati Bengals. And while some may argue Manti Te’o had a first round grade despite ultimately sliding into the second round, the same argument could be made for Alabama halfback, Eddie Lacy. Beyond the first round, however, the overall number of players drafted by both programs wasn’t as far off the mark as expected, with Alabama having nine players selected to Notre Dame’s six.
The final results of the 2013 NFL Draft made me wonder: was the talent disparity as great as previously thought? Was the draft gap between Alabama and Notre Dame the norm, or is it usually narrower? To get a clearer look, I examined the past ten years of BCS Championship games and matched them with the following NFL Draft. This method isn’t without drawbacks. The graph below will only explore overall number of draft picks and not the round in which they were selected, which can distort the talent picture. In addition, not every NFL-caliber player leaves immediately after a national championship match, as evidenced by Alabama quarterback, A.J. McCarron, and Notre Dame standouts Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix. Still, this method offers a glimpse into the NFL talent of programs competing in the BCS National Championship.
|Year||BCS Championship||Winner||Drafted Players||Differential|
|2013||Alabama/Notre Dame||Alabama||Alabama (9), Notre Dame (6)||3|
|2012||Alabama/LSU||Alabama||Alabama (8), LSU (5)||3|
|2011||Auburn/Oregon||Auburn||Auburn (4), Oregon (1)||3|
|2010||Alabama/Texas||Alabama||Alabama (7), Texas (6)||1|
|2009||Florida/Oklahoma||Florida||Florida (3), Oklahoma (5)||-2|
|2008||LSU/Ohio State||LSU||LSU (7), Ohio State (3)||4|
|2007||Florida/Ohio State||Florida||Florida (9), Ohio State (8)||1|
|2006||Texas/USC||Texas||Texas (6), USC (11)||-5|
|2005||Oklahoma/USC||USC||USC (5), Oklahoma (11)||-6|
|2004||LSU/Oklahoma||LSU||LSU (7), Oklahoma (3)||4|
|2003||Miami/Ohio State||Ohio State||Ohio State (5), Miami (8)||-3|
|*Bolded differential numbers represent winning teams having less drafted players|
Examining the past decade of BCS National Championship games did offer a few interesting insights. If we define talent as which team had more players drafted, the more “talented” team won the national championship in 7 out of the past 11 contests, or roughly 64% of the time. Also interesting, the past three BCS title bouts have had a draft differential of 3, as well as a program hailing from the State of Alabama.
Some of the more intriguing and unexpected outcomes came courtesy of Oklahoma and Ohio State, and the numbers are not particularly flattering to Sooners head coach, Bob Stoops. Oklahoma made it to the national championship game on three occasions this past decade, losing all three times. In two of those contests, Oklahoma had more draftable talent. In 2005, Oklahoma had six more draft picks (the highest championship disparity in the findings) on its roster than their opponent, USC, yet lost in spectacular fashion, 55-19. Oddly enough, the following year USC found itself on the opposite end of the spectrum, possessing five more draft picks (the second highest championship disparity) on their roster than their opponent, Texas, yet fell to the Vince Young-led Longhorns, 41-38, in the waning seconds.
Ohio State also made three title appearances in the past decade, and in each occurrence had less draftable talent than their opponent. Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes won the 2003 BCS National Championship against the Miami Hurricanes in overtime despite having three less draft picks on their squad. It is a fairly revealing statistic that the former Ohio State head coach managed to win a national championship despite having less talent in all three appearances, while Bob Stoops posted an 0-3 mark while having better talent in two of his championship games.
While the results of this miniature study should in no way make Notre Dame fans feel better about the loss to Alabama (I know it doesn’t make me feel better, anyway), it does offer enough insight that, given recent history, the odds were not in Notre Dame’s favor to win. But with future top NFL draft picks dotting the defensive line in Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix, perhaps ND’s name can find its way back onto the list. And hopefully sooner rather than later.
Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles as well as co-founded a nationally-featured non-profit organization. In his spare time he takes his NCAA Football ’13 online dynasty way too seriously and alienates those around him by discussing football 24
hours a day. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.