Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated ranks UK and U of L in the bottom group of college football teams, a group he labels "the Peasants."
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As Eric Crawford and I noted Saturday in the WDRB.com College Football Notebook, Stewart Mandel of SI.com organized the teams in college football into four groups – Kings, Barons, Knights and Peasants.
Sort of like saying there are A, B, C and D-Level programs, a more extensive way of separating the Haves and Have Nots. He called it his "Program Pecking Order," as he updated it for the first time in five years.
And in this case, Mandel assigned Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana to the Land of Peasants, the bottom group of 20 teams.
Mandel said the rankings were not statistically driven. It was more of a "I Know It, When I See It," system. Something about how much juice these programs would carry if he asked somebody in Montana about them.
I did work some numbers – win totals over the last five years, bowl games played in during the last five seasons and average home attendance in 2011 – into comparing U of L, UK and IU against the 28 teams ranked one class ahead of them in the "Knights," division.
And Louisville and Kentucky don't belong in the world of college football peasants.
Indiana has struggled since Bill Mallory left town – and that's been nearly two decades ago. The Hoosiers and Kevin Wilson have to win their way out of the basement.
But Kentucky and Louisville have celebrated many good times. The Cards have had some potholes over the last five seasons, but the outlook calls for a third straight bowl game this season. The Cards have more wins over the last five seasons than six teams in the Knights division and their home attendance ranks 18th.
And although there is uneasiness in the Kentucky camp because of the struggles of last season, the Wildcats have actually been better than the Cardinals over the last five years.
UK ranks in the middle of the pack in total wins, has four bowl appearances and would rank eighth in attendance. Hardly the credentials of a college football peasant.
So can you make the argument that U of L and UK have been more Knights tan Peasants in recent seasons?
Absolutely, although you need to remember that Mandel's definition of how he selected and organized the teams in the four groups wasn't numbers oriented.
Mandel wrote this:
"As a refresher: The goal here is not to rank programs based on winning percentage, national championships, bowl wins or any other quantitative measure, though those things undoubtedly matter. As I wrote in '07, a national power carries "... a certain cachet or aura. It's the way a program is perceived by the public. Let me put it to you this way. Suppose we went to, say, Montana. And suppose we found 100 'average' college football fans (not necessarily message-board crazies, but not twice-a-year viewers, either) and put them in a room. If I held up a Michigan helmet, my guess is all 100 would know exactly what it was. ... But if I held up a Georgia 'G' helmet, how many of them do you think would be able to identify it off the top of their heads?"
OK. But I couldn't resist. I checked the records of all the teams ranked ahead of the local programs in the Knights' category and compared them to what Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana have done the last five seasons.