Odds Behind State of Alabama’s Football Streak

On January 6, 2014 Auburn will play Florida State in the last title game of the BCS era. Auburn will carry their conference’s flag, competing for the SEC’s 8th national title in a row. They will also carry the State of Alabama’s flag, competing for Alabama’s 5th title in a row.  What are the odds of a title staying in one state? This is the question has me dusting off ye ole blog this morning [1]. Ironically, my last post two years ago was about college football as well.

By State

An oversimplified example takes into account numbers of states.  In any given year, a state should have a 1 in 50 chance of taking home the title. Nine states do not have FBS football teams[2], therefore the odds improve to 1 in 41. This means the odds of winning in any given year are 2.4%. The odds of a state qualifying five years in a row are 0.000000007651623. [3]

By School

There are 125 FB schools, 5 of which are in Alabama. They are:

  • Alabama
  • Auburn
  • UAB
  • Troy
  • South Alabama

Therefore, the odds of a team located in Alabama winning are 5 in 125, or 4%. The odds of winning five years in a row are 0.0000001024.

By Population

Each team gets 85 scholarships for their football team. It stands to reason that teams in states with higher populations have a better chance of finding top tier athletes. Let’s look at the populations of popular football states:

  • California – 38 million
  • Texas – 26 million
  • Florida – 19 million
  • Ohio – 11.5 million
  • Georgia – 10 million
  • Alabama – 5 million
  • Nebraska – 1.9 million

When you factor in that Alabama, Auburn, and Nebraska have done more with less, their national championship streaks are even more impressive.

Obviously, Alabama has a college football culture, therefore a higher percentage of the state’s athletes are drawn to that sport as opposed to other sports. This is might explain some of our success compared to California. Texas and Ohio, however, has no such excuses. They are as crazy about football as anyone. 

How do you explain Alabama’s streak?

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Notes:

1. I think I will start using my blog more. Gramar snobs beware.
2. Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont do not have FBS football teams
3. Someone should check my math.

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