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

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The state of Iowa is delusional if it thinks of itself as a football powerhouse. Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images.
The state of Iowa is delusional if it thinks of itself as a football powerhouse. Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images.

It’d be easy to pile on Wyoming, what with 10 percent of its roster from in-state and one player exported to an out-of-state FBS school.

Instead, we’ll focus on the Top 5 disappointments. These are the states with football-rich heritages that might not be as strong as they once were. They might, perhaps, just be considered (gasp) “overrated.”  

These are the states with high winning percentages and low in-state retention. They don’t keep many, nor do they export many.  

5. KANSAS

Schools: Kansas, Kansas State

In terms of Great Plains football, life in Kansas might be more plain than great.  

Yes, Kansas State has nine seasons with double-digit wins in the last 18 years and the state as a whole has witnessed a combined 211 years of football history, but…  

You have to look at a state as a whole. And 25 percent of the state’s players claim Texas as their home.  

Kansas State retains enough in-state talent for 44 percent of its roster. It’s a different story some 90 miles down I-70 in Lawrence, Kan. The Jayhawks' roster is comprised of only 20 percent homegrown talent.  

There are nine more Texans on Kansas' roster than Kansans. And there aren’t too many Kansans (16) to begin with. In fact, KU needs athletes from 21 states to fill out its roster.  

With 32 exported athletes nationally, Kansas as a state accounts for all of one percent of players competing outside of their home states.

4. IOWA

Schools: Iowa, Iowa State

Speaking of Bo Schembechler, legend tells us the former Michigan coach absolutely detested the visitor’s locker room at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium. Mostly because its walls were painted pink and a toilet sat in the middle of the room.

These days, it seems many Iowa products are getting a chance to see the legendary pink locker room — as opponents of the Hawkeyes. That is, if there were many homegrown Iowans playing in the FBS.

Iowa ranks 35th out of 41 states in terms of exports. Just 23 Hawkeye State athletes play elsewhere. That places Iowa behind states such as Kentucky, Nevada and Utah. Not exactly football hotbeds.

In-state players account for 41 percent of Iowa schools' rosters (Iowa 37 percent, Iowa State 45 percent), ranking them in the middle of the pack, but at the bottom of states with rich football histories.

That history might be colorful, but perhaps a bit inflated, considering Iowa hasn’t won a Big Ten title outright since 1985 and Iowa State hasn’t been crowned a conference champ since 1912.

3. NEBRASKA

Schools: Nebraska

When you think of Nebraska, you can’t help but think of two things: corn and football, both of which have deep roots in the Cornhusker State.

Of the nine states with just one FBS school (Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Wyoming), Nebraska has the most impressive résumé. It also has the only national title among those schools since 1961.

Despite five national titles in a 27-year span, the fourth-most wins in NCAA history and 43 conference titles, the era where homegrown Heisman winners such as Johnny Rodgers and Eric Crouch headline Nebraska's team might be a woebegone one.

Only five Nebraskans are projected to start this season for the Cornhuskers — none on the defense. Those five players include the punter, as well as offensive linemen/brothers Jake and Spencer Long.

If Nebraska is to elevate its postseason bowl record back to .500 this season (24-25), the Cornhuskers will do so with talent from Texas (20 players), California (9) and Ohio (9).

Nebraska's roster is 39 percent in-state talent, the lowest number by far compared to other states that are considered “traditional powerhouses.”

The state’s low population and having just one school can only be blamed so much. In Nebraska’s case, the talent might not be as strong as it once was. The Cornhusker state exports only 21 players to out-of-state FBS schools, while using players from 21 other states to fill out its 137-man roster, the largest in the country. It might be a case where there are not enough players to fill out the Cornhuskers’ massive roster.

There are a total of 75 Nebraskans playing in the FBS. Missouri, another state with just one school, exports 77 of its players to other states.