Skip to main content

Study reveals that "home-field advantage" in college football is far from what it used to be

As the son of a coach, I was raised to believe that once you step in between the white lines, everything else around you pretty much disappears. That's how I played, and that's how I coach, and it's also why I've always rolled my eyes when analysts talk about "home field advantage" or a team being tired and unfocused after a cross country trip for a game because none of that REALLY matters once you step on the field for kickoff.

According to a piece from the Omaha World-Herald, I may be on to something as the article points out that "home-field advantage has nearly disappeared" in college football.

From the Omaha World-Herald:

Across the five major conferences, from 1996 through 2013, home teams won 56.5 percent of league games. There were a few ups and downs, but the rate was pretty steady.

Now look at 2014 and 2015, the two most balanced seasons in the 20-year span. Power Five home teams won just 50.8 percent. Their total record: 267-259.

The numbers in the Big Ten are perhaps the most interesting and show just how much things are changing. From 1996-2011, home teams won conference games at nearly a 58% clip, but over the course of the last four seasons, Big Ten home teams are 102-105, equating to just over 49% of wins.

The author of the piece, Dirk Chatelain, dug much deeper into the numbers, but also reached out to a number of folks embedded in college football in a variety of ways to figure out whyhome-field advantage isn't what it used to be. He came away with a few interesting nuggets.

For one, crowd noise doesn't play as big of a role because teams are now signaling with hand signals and giant cue cards, and on top of that attendance is dropping at most schools and has been for some time and people aren't as engaged because many have their nose in their smart phones. Another factor that Chatelain touches on is the impact that reviews may have on games, which could diminish the "homer factor". Chatelain touches on a number of other interesting ideas worth checking out as well.

Head here to read the full piece, which is full of mesmerizing numbers on home field advantage, and a host of reasons on why it has dropped significantly in recent years.