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Examining the law school/football connection

Now that college football season is underway, we thought we’d try an interesting experiment: What if college football teams were ranked on the basis of how highly placed their law schools are in the U.S. News & World Report rankings? Those rankings are often criticized for being arbitrary and questionable—in other words, just like the polls used to rank college football teams.

We compiled a list of the 12 universities of the Southeastern Conference and 10 existing or future universities of the Atlantic Coast Conference that have law schools, examined their U.S. News rankings, and we found that the world would look a lot different.

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For one, we’d see some unusual conference championship games. In the SEC title game, SEC East champion Vanderbilt (#16) would top SEC West champion Alabama (#29). Alabama’s a very familiar face, but Vanderbilt has never played for an SEC title.

In the ACC, with its impossible-to-remember divisions, Virginia (#7) would top Boston College (#29). Virginia likewise has never made an ACC title game appearance.

The balance of power between conferences would totally shift. The SEC has won the last six national championships in football, whereas the ACC … well, let’s just say it’s a heck of a basketball conference. But if you go by the U.S. News rankings, the roles would reverse. The ACC leaves the SEC in the dust.

Finally, expansion may be good for television ratings, but it’s not good for law school rankings. The two schools set to join the ACC next year, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, do nothing to lift the conference’s average law-school rank. In the SEC, Missouri falls in the conference’s bottom half, and next year Texas A&M will take over Texas Wesleyan’s School of Law—which is currently not even ranked in the U.S. News standings.



  • University of Virginia #7 (tied)
  • Duke #11
  • Boston College #29 (tied)
  • University of North Carolina #38
  • University of Maryland #39 (tied)
  • Wake Forest #44 (tied)
  • Florida State #51 (tied)
  • University of Miami #69 (tied)
  • University of Pittsburgh #69 (tied)
  • Syracuse University #96 (tied)


  • Vanderbilt #16
  • University of Alabama #29 (tied)
  • University of Georgia #34
  • University of Florida #48
  • University of Kentucky #62 (tied)
  • University of Tennessee #69 (tied)
  • Louisiana State #79 (tied)
  • University of Missouri #79 (tied)
  • University of Arkansas #89 (tied)
  • University of South Carolina #109
  • University of Mississippi #135 (tied)
  • Texas Wesleyan University Not Ranked

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