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The Start of the Dunkel Index

The Dunkel Index has been a family-owned enterprise for 90 years. Started by Dick Dunkel, Sr., in 1929, it was designed to settle a dispute over which college football team was the best at the time. Because teams back then rarely traveled across the country to play each other, there was a constant debate between the East and West coast over who was Number 1. So Dick, Sr., came up with an ingenious solution: Take what data is available, create a few formulas and calculate mathematically the best teams in the land. It was an idea that soon took off.

beginning-of-dunkel-indexDick, Sr., took some scratches on index cards and turned it into a system that was syndicated nationwide. Because of its novel approach and unparalleled accuracy, the Dunkel Index quickly became the de facto authority on college football. Hundreds of newspapers around the country carried the Index and Dick, Sr., continued to produce these power ratings by hand until the early 1970s.

Expansion and New Leadership

In 1972, he handed off the ratings to his oldest son, Dick, Jr., who along with his brother, Bob, took on the task of expanding the effort. Under their leadership, the Index moved into professional basketball and football. In addition, Dick, Jr., was able to computerize the models, which enabled Dunkel to cover every college program from Division I to the NAIA. Dunkel also did high school ratings in Florida and a variety of other locations.

But the market for the ratings started to change in the early 1980s. Newspapers, which had been the primary source of revenue, increasingly found that they did not have the news space available to carry the Index. A handful of larger ones, such as the New York Times, started their own computer rankings based on the same concepts as Dunkel.

As a new outlet, Dick, Jr., moved the ratings onto the Internet. Working through the Daytona Beach News-Journal, he created a website so that everyone who had used the Index in the early days could once again access its numbers. The Index also became part of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in 1999 and continued to participate in the computer rankings through the 2001 season.

The death of Dick, Jr., in 2003 left the Index in limbo. The News-Journal terminated its agreement to serve as the web host and provide the computers for running the calculations. Facing the possibility of not producing the ratings for the first time in decades, Dick’s two sons, Bob and Richard, stepped in to carry on the tradition. Creating their own website, they’ve been able to keep the Index going and will be entering their 12th season as the leaders of the operation.

The Modern Dunkel Index

Today the Dunkel Index is enjoying renewed success. Powered by the new website and a growing cadre of loyal followers, the Index continues to produce ratings and picks that are among the best in the business. While others have created their own systems to compete with the Index, Dunkel remains the standard in the field. The formulas that Dick, Sr., came up within 1929 remain an accurate measurement of the relative strength of teams and a powerful forecaster of future performance. Fine tuning through three generations of Dunkels has made the Index even more accurate.

The Dunkel Index has had a long and interesting past. And now under the guidance of Bob and Richard, the Index should have an equally strong future. The family appreciates all the people who have used the Dunkel Index over the years and is committed to carrying on the tradition established by Dick, Sr., 89 years ago.