Want a simple way to pick the college football national champion? This one is based on statistical research which means you don’t have to endure hours of banter by guys like May-day, Dr. Lou or people who we were once on the Bachelor.
Here it is: Just look at the All-Americans in the defensive backfield.
While the Heisman and offenses gather much of the hype, it is the defensive backfields that win National Championships. Going back to 1997 in Michigan’s Charles Woodson, who accomplished the rare feat of being named All-American, Heisman winner, and part of a National Championship team, 15 of the past 16 National Champions (or 94%) had at least one All-American defensive back on their team. In the majority of the years, the national champion had at least one All-American defensive back named in the same championship year. In all other years, the player became an All-American the next season (i/e, Tennessee won the 1998 championship with Deon Grant and Grant made the 1999 All-American team). The below outlines the success rate of defensive back All-Americans to National Champions:
Year National Champion All-American Defensive Back Player(s)
1997 Michigan — Charles Woodson
1998 Tennessee — None: Deon Grant made 1999 team
1999 Florida State — None: Tad Cody made 2000 team
2000 Oklahoma — J.T. Thatcher, Roy Williams
2001 Miami, FL — Phillip Buchanon, Ed Reed
2002 Ohio State — Mike Doss
2003 LSU — Corey Webster
2004 USC* (since vacated) — None: Darrell Bing made 2005 team
2005 Texas — Michael Huff
2006 Florida — Reggie Nelson
2007 LSU — Craig Steltz
2008 Florida — None: Joe Haden made 2009 team
2009 Alabama — Javier Arenas
2010 Auburn — None
2011 Alabama — Dre Kirkpatrick, Mark Barron, Dequan Menzie
2012 Alabama – Dee Milliner
So what does this mean for 2013? Most preseason listings had the following individuals for their first team All-American defensive backfield: Lamarcus Joyner (Florida State); Ha-Ha Clinton Dix (Alabama); Jason Verrett (TCU); Ifo Elpra-Olom (Oregon). Fair to say that TCU is out of the race and given the suspension of Clinton Dix, one would be wise to place bets on either FSU or Oregon to win it all; or you can take a 6% chance of trying to pick the next Auburn.
Note: All Americans from the following Associated Press (AP), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Walter Camp Foundation (WCFF), The Sporting News (TSN), Sports Illustrated (SI), Pro Football Weekly (PFW), ESPN, CBS Sports (CBS), College Football News (CFN), Rivals.com, and Scout.com.