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State Of The (Student) Union: Determining The Best CFB State

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Alabama merits a Top-5 spot thanks to the state's four consecutive national titles, claiming two of the last four Heisman winners and exporting the 10th-most talent. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
Alabama merits a Top-5 spot thanks to the state's four consecutive national titles, claiming two of the last four Heisman winners and exporting the 10th-most talent. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

We begin with the best at keeping and exporting talent:

(6.) OHIO (Bonus)

Schools: Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Ohio State, Toledo  

It’s unfortunate that a team that went undefeated last season (12-0) finds itself looking up at the Top 5, especially in a gridiron stomping ground such as the Buckeye State. Regardless, Ohio’s eight-school CV is impressive, starting with the Bearcats and rocketing down to the Zips.  

In-state players make up a combined 53 percent of the rosters. Ohio exports 282 players to D-I programs in other states.  

Cincinnati and Ohio State each have won or shared four of the last five Big East and Big Ten titles, respectively. Couple that success with the fact that Ohio has six more schools than Georgia and the argument can be made that Ohio should be at No. 5 rather than the Peach State.  

5. GEORGIA  

Schools: Georgia, Georgia Tech  

We’re looking at two key factors when determining the strength of a state, not just the prowess of one particular school within said state.  

One is retaining talent, as measured by the percentage of in-state players on the roster. The other is the amount of players a state sends to the other 40 states with at least one FBS school. For the purpose of this study, we’ll refer to those commingled, co-ed transplants as “exports.”  

The Georgia schools (70 percent in-state; 507 exports) are good at doing both; very few states can compare to the Peach State’s talent pool.  

Only two states succeed at building rosters with more of its own players. Georgia’s ability to produce teams with a combined 70 percent of its homegrown talent helps explain a Georgia team that finished No. 5 in the AP poll last year with a 12-2 record and has had just one sub-.500 season in the last 16 years. Combined with Georgia Tech, the state is 37-18 the last two years.  

But Georgia doesn’t just keep 'em, they also ship 'em out. There are only three states that export more than the 507 Georgia players on the spring rosters of the 40 other states that have at least one FBS program.   

You’ll find a Georgia product at 89 of the 120 FBS schools — including at Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, schools that import more Georgians than players from any other state. There are nearly twice as many Georgia-based players (47) as there are Tennesseans on the Middle Tennessee State (26) roster.  

The state’s talent pool hasn’t gone unnoticed. Georgia has an opportunity to keep more of its players home when Georgia Southern and Georgia State join the FBS pool within the next two seasons.

4. ALABAMA

Schools: Alabama, UAB, Auburn, South Alabama, Troy

Alabama doesn’t possess stats comparable to those of the other Top 5 states, but it has something every state covets: national titles.

The Yellowhammer State owns the last four American Football Coaches Association National Championship Trophies — including the first back-to-back titles in the BCS era.

Two of the last four Heisman winners (Mark Ingram, Alabama, and Cam Newton, Auburn) played their college ball on Alabama soil.

But neither Ingram nor Newton were true Alabamians.

As a collective state, Alabama retains enough home-grown talent to fill 46 percent of its five FBS college teams. That’s only five percentage points higher than the national average and trails a dozen other states, including Hawaii (52 percent), Missouri (62.5), New Jersey (53) and Missouri (48).

The 140 'Bama-grown players on rosters of opposing schools make Alabama the 10th-best state at exporting players.

Alabama is the perfect example, however, that oftentimes it’s quality rather than quantity.

Look no further than two-time champion and 2013 Heisman hopeful AJ McCarron. The Crimson Tide quarterback was born and raised in Mobile, Ala.

3. FLORIDA

Schools: Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Florida

The very mention of Florida solicits a wide range of images. Many of them are good, others bad. The one constant in Florida — outside of the Magic Kingdom — is football. And Florida is better than most when it comes to the gridiron.

The Sunshine State is second only to Texas when it comes to building through homegrown talent. Of Florida’s 1,252 players in the FBS, 477 of them play in the same state where they went to high school (72 percent of Florida's FBS rosters).

Florida most often calls on Georgia to supply the Sunshine State with talent. But the 43 Georgians on Florida rosters pales in comparison to the state’s 646 FBS players.

On the export side, only California sends more of its players elsewhere, but the numbers are close (783 to 775).