Auburn football has shocking conference realignment attractiveness ranking

Akron v Auburn
Akron v Auburn / Michael Chang/GettyImages

Footballscoop's Zach Barnett ranked Auburn football as the No. 31 school on his list of attractiveness to other conferences in realignment; just ahead of Utah, Kentucky, and Illinois and just behind Arkansas, Maryland, and Pitt.

Feels low, right? Well, in conference realignment, historical success oftentimes comes behind the potential market value of a given program. Arkansas and Maryland buoy their respective TV markets, with Arkansas State (126) and Navy (67) not holding nearly as much value. As for Pitt, the Panthers are in a major market that has pro sports teams in the NFL, MLB, and NHL. Meanwhile, Alabama came in at No. 3 on Barnett's list, right behind Ohio State at No. 1 and rival Michigan right behind them.

Recent struggles are not helping AU's case, though its devoted fanbase is strong enough to propel it past the flagship schools in states with higher populations than Alabama like Arizona, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Barnett explained how his criteria was different from prominent college athletics social media figure Tony Altimore's.

"It takes about 50 factors (broken down in the groups described in the summary), balances into points, and then weights them (based on input from experts) to create a broad-based look at overall attractiveness," Altimore told Barnett on how his rankings were calculated. Meanwhile, Barnett weighted things a bit differently...

"I found Altimore's model to overrate California schools -- there's no way UCLA is getting taken before LSU, or Cal before Oregon -- but at the very least it's an interesting conversation driver," Barnett wrote.

Auburn football not yet a true NIL power in modern college football

AU's On To Victory NIL collective has made tremendous strides over the years, gaining strength from donors after the program made the switch from Bryan Harsin to Hugh Freeze at the head coach spot.

But to say that Auburn is in the same league as the Texas and Ohio State's of the world is unfortunately misinformed.

Should the Tigers gain more financial support from the state's deepest wallets, Auburn can start competing for every single marquee recruit beyond the southeast region. Talent-rich states like California, Texas, and even Florida, which is already where AU has a solid footprint, could start to see more of an orange and blue presence on the recruiting trail. Or at least more of a successful presence.