Spartans are back but surprising school on top
Michigan State Share

Spartans are back but surprising school on top

Clemson enjoyed top combined rankings for football and basketball

Photo: Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo

By Tom Shanahan

Michigan State is back among the top-ranked football-basketball programs in the 2017-18 school year after a one-year absence, while a couple of football schools from the ACC and SEC jumped onto the list with surprising basketball strength.

Clemson -- yes, Clemson! -- is No. 1 with 21 points. Michigan State and Ohio State tied for second with 26 points and Auburn was fourth at 33. No other school enjoyed both a football and basketball program ranked among the Top 25, although Miami was ranked in football and among "others" with points in basketball.

The unique ranking is something I came up with five seasons ago when Michigan State, my alma mater, piqued my curiosity. Basketball coach Tom Izzo has long had the Spartans among the elite basketball programs since his first Final Four team in 1999, but football had slumped until Mark Dantonio began his rebuilding effort in 2007. 

For football, I go by The Associated Press final football rankings voted upon by the writers after the bowl games. For basketball, I use the USA Today poll voted upon by the coaches. The reason is, AP doesn’t conduct a final basketball poll at the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament.

With only five schools qualifying, it is the lowest total in the five seasons.

Michigan State was No. 1 in 2013-14, repeated as No. 1 in 2014-15 and was No. 2 in  was No. 2 in 2015-16 before the football team's 3-9 record in 2016. 
At Clemson, it's nothing new for Dabo Swinney's football program to be highly ranked, but Tigers basketball coach Brad Brownell was nearly fired after the 2016-17 season. Given a reprieve for 2017-18, he guided Clemson to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen and a final ranking of No. 15.
Auburn is another surprise southern school better known for football to make a mark. Before this year's NCAA trip, Auburn's most recent March Madness appearance was in 2003.

The 2017-18 football basketball rankings

--- 1. Clemson, 19 points: No. 4 football, No. 15 basketball

--- 2 (tie). Michigan State, 26 points: No. 15 football, No. 11 basketball

--- 2 (tie). Ohio State, 26 points: No. 5 football, No. 21 basketball

--- 4. Auburn, 33 points: No. 10 football, No. 23 basketball

--- 5. Miami, 50 points: No. 13 football, three points among others in basketball equal to No. 37.

The 2016-17 football basketball rankings

--- 1. Florida, 24 points: No. 14 football, No. 10 basketball

--- 2. Wisconsin, 25 points: No. 9 football, No. 16 basketball

--- 3. Michigan, 27 points: No. 10 football, No. 17 basketball

--- 4. West Virginia, 29 points: No. 18 football, No. 11 basketball

--- 5. Florida State, 32 points: No. 8 football, No. 24 basketball

--- 6. Louisville, 35 points: No. 21 football, No. 14 basketball

The 2015-16 football/basketball rankings:

--- 1. Oklahoma, 9 points: No. 5 football, No. 4 basketball.

--- 2. Michigan State, 13 points: No. 6 football, No. 7 basketball.

--- 3. North Carolina, 17 points: No. 15 football, No. 2 basketball.

--- 4. Oregon, 25 points: No. 19 football, No. 6 basketball.

--- 5. Notre Dame, 28 points: No. 11 football, No. 17 basketball.

--- 6. Iowa, 34 points: No. 9 football, No. 25 basketball.

--- 7. (tie) Baylor, 37 points: No. 13 football, No. 24 basketball.

--- 7. (tie) Utah, 37 points: No. 17 football, No. 20 basketball.

--- 9. Wisconsin, 44 points: No. 21 football, No. 23 basketball.

The 2014-15 football/basketball rankings:

1.     Michigan State, 12 points: No. 5 football, No. 7 basketball.

2.     Wisconsin, 15 points: No. 13 football, No. 2 basketball.

3.     Arizona, 23 points: No. 19 football, No. 4 basketball.

4.     Oregon, 27 points: No. 2 football, No. 25 basketball.

5.     Baylor, 28 points: No. 7 football, No. 21 basketball.

6.     Louisville, 34 points: No. 24 football, No. 10 basketball.

7.     Utah, 36 points: No. 21 football, No. 15 basketball.

The 2013-14 football/basketball rankings:

1.     Michigan State, 11 points: No. 3 football, No. 8 basketball.

2.     Louisville, 24 points: No. 15 football, No. 9 basketball.

3.     Wisconsin, 25 points: No. 21 football, No. 4 basketball.

4.     Baylor, 31 points: No. 13 football, No. 18 basketball

5.     UCLA, 31 points: No. 16 football, No. 15 basketball.

6.     Stanford, 34 points: No. 10 football, No. 24 basketball.

7.     Duke, 38 points: No. 22 football, No. 16 basketball.

Follow my stories on Twitter @shanny4055


Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom spent the bulk of his career in San DIego writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has covered NCAA Tournaments, Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series in a career that included writing for Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Hall of Champions and He contributes to the Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News & Observer,, and the National Football Foundation's Football Matters. He won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003. USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter presented its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. It explains Duffy Daugherty's pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications

David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer: "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."