ESPN classifies OU, 3 others as tier below the very best

ESPN has never been accused of showing favoritism to Oklahoma football. That may be why Sooner fans are thankful for anything resembling positive attention from the popular cable sports network

Let’s face it, no one has more ways to slice and dice the college football season than the crew at ESPN. There isn’t a ranking they haven’t come up with when it comes to teasing fans with the pecking order of the kingdom.

The college football staff at ESPN has gone through the 131 teams that make up the Football Bowl Subdivision and classified them into 24 different tiers.

Tier 1, what ESPN calls the “clear favorites” and the teams that practically everybody in the know in college football considers a cut above the rest of the field, features Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia, in that order.

Four teams — Clemson, Michigan, Notre Dame and Oklahoma — fall into Tier 2, according to the ESPN staff, under the heading: “How quickly we forget.”

The next classification containing a Big 12 team is Tier 4, which includes Texas, Miami and USC, all under the heading: “They’re (maybe) back!”

Baylor and Oklahoma State are listed in Tier 5 under the sub-headline: “The kind-of basketball schools.” The Bears and Cowboys are joined by Houston, Kentucky, Michigan State and Wake Forest.

You have to drop down to Tier 9 for the next Big 12 school. Kansas State, Louisville, Maryland, North Carolina and UCLA fall under the heading: “Plucky upstarts.”

West Virginia is in Tier 11, “(Coaches on) hot seats.”

Iowa State is one tier down at 12, under the heading: “Overachievers.”

Texas Tech and TCU fall under Tier 13: “All gas, no brakes.”

Kansas, Duke and Vanderbilt are listed in Tier 20: “At least they’re not markedly worse than Kansas.”