Which college athletic program had the best overall season in 2017-18?
We here at CBS Sports decided to find out — just as we do every year — by crunching the numbers at the conclusion of the season in order to present our annual Best in College Sports award.
The result? Despite not winning a national title over the course of the campaign, Ohio State (510.50 points) earned the honor for the second time in the past four years.
The Buckeyes accomplished this feat in large part due to a tremendous football season with the program finishing 12-2 and No. 5 in the final AP Top 25 with a Cotton Bowl victory and Big Ten title. Ohio State men’s basketball (25-7, No. 17 AP) and women’s basketball (28-7, No. 10 AP) each reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The wrestling team finished as a national runner-up, while the men’s volleyball team reached the national semifinal. The men’s and women’s ice hockey teams reached the Frozen Four, and both baseball and softball made the NCAA Tournament.
Alabama (492.25) finished second, while Oklahoma checked in third (477.50). The Crimson Tide won the College Football Playoff to claim the national title in football and made the NCAA Tournament in men’s basketball, but they fell short in women’s basketball and the two wild card sports. The Sooners made the CFP and won a national title in men’s gymnastics, both both basketball teams fell short of what Ohio State accomplished.
The National Association of College Directors of Athletics (NACDA) has been ranking athletic programs for years by weighing every sport equally, meaning a football national title is worth the same number of points (100) as a women’s water polo title. We tweaked the formula in 2013, providing additional weight toward sports with more broad fan bases and media interest. We rate every FBS school in three sports — football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball — along with two “wild cards” among the school’s most successful spectator sports: baseball, softball, volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, lacrosse, hockey and wrestling.
The weighted formula puts 2.5 times as much emphasis on football compared to women’s basketball and the “wild cards;” men’s basketball is worth twice as many points. Teams that did not finish in the final AP Top 25 in football but played in a bowl were awarded 62.5 points (25 x 2.5). Three teams — Buffalo, Western Michigan and Texas-San Antonio — received 50 points for being bowl eligible but not playing in a bowl. Teams that made the NIT were given 20 points (10 x 2), while WNIT teams received 10 points. For all titles settled via bracket, point totals were based upon how many teams participated. All champions in the other sports received 100 points for a national title. For example: Florida State received 100 points in softball, while the second-place finisher received 90 points.
Previous winners of CBS Sports’ Best in College Sports award include Louisville in 2013, Stanford in 2014, Ohio State in 2015, Oklahoma in 2016 and Florida State in 2017.