For all the hand-wringing that goes on in the wake of the annual Princeton Review rankings, it’s pretty innocuous stuff that gets highlighted in the midst of extensive lists unscientifically ranking colleges and universities in a variety of ways. I don’t worry too much about it, because the methodology is flawed, and because university undergraduates aren’t modifying their behavior in the hope of increasing their school’s ranking. No one who took a drink in Athens, Ga., in 2007 did so because the University of Georgia had been ranked outside the top ten for two years running. It’s harmless, it’s silly, and it gives us something to talk about during the stretch run leading up to football season.
So, let’s talk about it in that context. In the Mark Richt era, what relationship do the Princeton Review rankings have to results on the football field? I’m glad you asked:
|Year||PR Party Rank||Final AP Rank|
Admittedly, "NR" is a bit misleading in the Princeton Review column; in at least a couple of those years (2001 and 2005), Georgia ranked twelfth, but I was unable (read: lacked the patience) to find a comprehensive archive of the party school rankings, so I treated anything outside the top ten as unranked for off-the-field purposes.
Georgia has failed to make the Princeton Review top ten in five of the ten years of the Mark Richt era in Athens, although you attribute that to our head coach’s penchant for clean living at your own risk. In all five of the years that Georgia was not a top ten party school, though, the Bulldogs were a top 25 football team, and the Red and Black made the top ten on the gridiron thrice.
In the four years prior to 2010 in which the University was among the nation’s ten best places to partake, the Classic City Canines finished with a higher final ranking in the Associated Press poll than in the Princeton Review ratings twice, which means this year’s Bulldogs have a 50 per cent chance at finishing higher than No. 1. (Wait a minute. . . .) Only once in the Mark Richt era has Georgia been a top ten party school without also being a top fifteen football school.
If we treat the Bulldogs (based upon the "others receiving votes" portion of last year’s final AP poll) as the nation’s No. 33 team in 2009, the differences in party ranking and poll ranking for the four years in which Georgia made both lists are +1 in 2004, +3 in 2007, -6 in 2008, and -29 in 2009, for an average 7.75-spot decline between the poll position afforded by the Princeton Review in August and that awarded by the sportswriters in January.
Assuming the ‘Dawgs regress to the mean in more ways than one this fall, that means the football team representing the country’s No. 1 party school will finish the season ranked in the lower reaches of the top ten, either at eighth or ninth. I’d sure settle for that.
Take the foregoing for whatever it’s worth, and party on, dudes.