Now that the 6 week infographics course is done, it’s time for a bit of a departure from ‘serious’ infographics and time for a bit of frivolous fun. A few months ago I got the notion of creating a visual summary of this season’s college football rankings – a depiction of how the various teams rise and fall in the polls. I started with the AP rankings and posted a work in progress on that and have been updating it as the weeks progress.
A few weeks ago the official BCS rankings started coming out so I did the same thing for that poll. The results are bit gaudy, in large part due to the garish colors that most college teams have chosen.
2012 BCS College Football Rankings Infographic
2012 AP College Football Rankings Infographic
If I decide to do it again next year I will no doubt do it a bit differently. I think it needs to be toned down and simplified – more like a line chart than a subway map style. But, I do consider it a useful endeavor. As far as a functional tool, I think it does a good job of showing when there was a lot of movement or change in the polls. You can see that week to week, most of the changes happen in the middle and lower ranked teams. The more ‘bowl of spaghetti’ -looking a given week is, the more change took place, and it’s easy to see where in the polls and which weeks had the big changes.
I think this would be an interesting idea as an interactive visualization for some big online sports network (I’m looking at you ESPN). Rolling over a team would fade out all other teams and highlight that team, showing it’s path through the weeks. So, for instance, you could track USC’s slow, pitiful fall from number 1 at the beginning to falling completely out of the AP poll on November 18. Or track Notre Dame’s ascent from nowhere to number 1. Maybe show additional information like wins and losses, game scores for each week, points in the poll, etc. So, there’s a ready-made idea for any online sports site. A little credit back here would be nice when you decide to run with it.