GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN The Magazine's "Franchise Issue" arrived in the mail this week.
It's one of the magazine's most popular issues. If you're a fan of the Memphis Grizzlies -- I figure at least a few of you converted over the summer when former UF standout Mike Miller left the Miami Heat to rejoin the Grizzlies -- then you will be pleased at ESPN's rankings.
The Grizzlies are ranked the No. 1 franchise in all of professional sports based on numerous criteria from concession prices to competitiveness. Meanwhile, the Shaqramento Kings ... umm, Sacramento Kings are dead last at No. 122. Shaq obviously has some work to do as one of the Kings' new owners.
The magazine also reviewed the last 15 years in college athletics and ranked schools based on their football and men's basketball programs during that time span.
Here is a ranking I know Florida fans will give two thumbs up: the Gators are No. 1.
ESPN The Magazine editors, with the help of consultant Jeff Phillips, principal at the Parthenon Group and alumnus of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, identified three principal categories of success – on-field success, off-field success and traditions of success -- to determine the top college programs.
Each of the three major categories of success was analyzed closer using nine different factors: title track, head coach, strength of schedule, academics, recruiting, player success, stadium edge, football/basketball revenue and NCAA violations.
Once the ingredients were mixed together and pulled from the oven, the Gators stood atop the college sports world over the past 15 years.
Here is what the magazine wrote to explain Florida’s ranking:
Since 1998, Florida is the only program to win championships in both sports – and the Gators did it twice in each (football in ’06 and ’08; hoops: ’06 and ’07). They’ve hauled in the most ESPN 150 football recruits (77) and rank behind only Ohio State and USC for player success. On the hardwood, UF ranks outside the top 25 in just one category (revenue, No. 27), and if Urban Meyer were still around to form a one-two coaching punch with Billy Donovan (No. 6), our rankings wouldn’t have been as close. (Will Muschamp ranks 51st.)
As for the rest of the top 10, here goes: 2. Ohio State; 3. Texas; 4. Oklahoma; 5. Michigan; 6. Michigan State; 7. Alabama; 8. UCLA; 9. Wisconsin; 10. Notre Dame.
If you are an ESPN Insider subscriber, you can access ESPN The Magazine online here for the complete rankings.