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Two, Four, Six, Eight, How Does Your Credit Union Rate?

The college football season is now officially about two weeks old, so it's time to unveil The Credit Union Journal's proposed new system for ranking the teams - according to the credit unions that serve those universities.

It seems an absolute natural, just one tiny change and the NCUA is the NCAA. In both cases, statistics are important, there is a lot of power consolidated at the top, and we've long suspected examiners secretly long to blow actual whistles.

Most of the current rankings had the Ohio State Buckeyes atop the polls prior to the big game over the weekend with Texas, but not the CU Journal poll. Sure, the Buckeyes have one of college football's most potent offenses and defenses, but they suffer big, negative points in the highly-respected CUJ Poll for not having a credit union with "Ohio State" in the name, and, unfortunately, they tumble out of our top 10. THE Ohio State University isn't even served by THE credit union - it's served by two CUs - Credit Union of Ohio and MidState Educators. The good news for Ohio State fans in our poll-there is a Buckeye Community Credit Union. The bad news - it's in Florida!

There are 28 credit unions in the U.S. that have "University" in some part of their name, including 11 that are "University of" Credit Union: Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan (sorry again, Buckeye fans, but it's not called That School Up North CU), Minnesota, Nebraska, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Utah, Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Of that group, atop the poll is University of Wisconsin CU in Madison, Wis. (the only team with CUNA and CUNA Mutual employees on the coaching staff) at $850 million in assets, a sizeable improvement over the CU's 2005 season at $752 million. The U of Iowa's CU also is looking good for 06 at $489 million in assets. Demonstrating there really isn't parity in the Big 10, University of Minnesota CU doesn't look like a candidate for the Top 10 at just $23 million.

Six credit unions simply go by "University," in Boston, Los Angeles, Grand Forks, N.D., Austin, Orono, Maine and Miami, Fla. In that group there are a couple of traditional football powers: the University of Texas Longhorns, the UCLA Bruins, and the University of Miami Hurricanes. The Longhorns have a good shot at leading this year's CUJ Poll; at $727-million there are the largest (everything's bigger in Texas) of this batch of University-named credit unions, up from $671 million during the 2005 season. And with 111,000 members they have the kind of roster depth that should allow them to bounce back from injuries; why even if their first 10,000 or so quarterbacks go down, there are more names on the depth chart.

As for Miami, well, have to admit to a personal bias here - just cancelled my season tickets after 17 years and won't be renewing until the Hurricanes get a new coach. Should University CU in Miami expel that coach from the membership, I'm not saying they'll go to the top of the CUJ Poll, but...

With the CUJ College Credit Union/Football Poll now in place, we think the credit union influence on the game will soon be evident at stadiums across the country, where you'll be hearing:

Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar

Avoid those surcharges that make you holler!

And:

Push 'em back, push 'em back, waaaaaayyy back

Look out bankers because we're on the attack!

How are other teams in the national college football Top 10 Poll doing in the CUJ poll? Some are crossing over quite well. In Southern Cal, USC Credit Union ($287 million in assets) gets points for having the name of the school in its name, as does Notre Dame Credit Union ($373 million), which may get its Irish up as we deduct points because there are two other CUs with the same name. In the surprisingly competitive Gainesville, Fla. credit union market, there is a Florida Credit Union, but it's not the UNIVERSITY OF Florida CU. There's also another big player in town, the $754-million Campus USA, which doesn't help the Gators in our poll. Similarly, the LSU Tigers slide in our rankings as they are served by Campus Federal. Moving up, however, in the CUJ Poll are the Florida State Seminoles, served by FSU CU ($68 million), where we suspect Coach Bobby Bowden has now been in the Seniors Club longer than he wasn't. Other CUs that could be contenders in the poll: the $85-million Penn State FCU in State College, Penn. (with more bonus points for having a good hometown name) and the $1.2-billion Michigan State FCU in East Lansing (but it's got an aggravating groin pull in the name of another MSU CU, this one serving Murray State University).

Speaking of Pennsylvania, there's also the University of Pennsylvania Student Credit Union, but at $5-million it's likely to just be the kind of cupcake that shows up on the bigger schools' schedules, and will likely be joined in that same losing cause by University Lutheran Church of Hope CU ($262,000 in assets) and University House CU in Philly ($360,000).

So which of these schools is going to the top of the first-ever CUJ College Football Credit Union Poll? None of them. Nope, our top candidates have come down to Clemson (big winner in its opener), Colorado (who's taking Montana State lightly now?) and a surprising team, Colgate (whipped by UMass in its first game). Still, each of them has what it takes to win the CUJ Poll: they all go by "CU."

Frank J. Diekmann is Publisher of The Credit Union Journal and can be reached at fdiekmann<at>cujournal.com.

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