Wikipedia:WikiProject College football/Reliable sources

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The WikiProject College football reliable sources essay aims to define what does and does not constitute a reliable source in the world of college football topics.

Online sources considered reliable[edit]

These online resources are very helpful as a source of information about college football (please do NOT copy their material and always remember to cite your sources)

Naturally, this list is not meant to exclude other online sources (such as and that are widely considered to be reliable sources.

College Football Data Warehouse[edit]

Editors in the college football project will often use the College Football Data Warehouse (CFDW) as the project editors consider it a reliable source. This database is linked to many, many pages on Wikipedia for statisitics and biographical information. Not only has this website has proven time and again to be a reliable source of information, but it is maintained by an established expert on the topic and is relevant to the field.

Also, this particular website (and others like it) are used to pull statistical data (such as historical win-loss records, scores, opponents, bowl game results) and meet the definition of Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. The "reliability of source" test does not need to be as stringent for such facts as compared to opinion.

It is unfortunate that the CFDW is an incomplete database. The site has proven to be very accurate on the information it does present but it has been found to not be reliable on missing information. Several notable coaches have coached at schools that have not been entered into the database. Several examples (as of June 2008) are:

Edwin Sweetland – no mention of his time at Hamilton or Alfred [1]
Sol Metzger– no mention of his time at Washington and Jefferson [2]
John W. Heisman – no mention of his time at Oberlin or Washington and Jefferson [3]
Hal Mumme – no mention of his time Iowa Wesleyan or Valdosta State [4]
Stu Holcomb – no mention of his time Findlay, Muskingum or Washington and Jefferson [5]
Andrew Kerr – no mention of his time at Washington & Jefferson and Lebanon Valley. [6]
Amos Alonzo Stagg- no mention of his time at Springfield [7]

Criticisms and responses[edit]

Criticisms of CFDW: Common criticisms of the use of this website state that it is "self-published material", refer to it as an "enthusiast website", or even a blog. The claim is that the site does not meet the standards set in WP:SPS.

Response to Critics: CFDW indeed does meet the criteria on WP:SPS because it is neither a "self-published source" nor "non-English" source. Also, the pages meet the criteria "Self-published material may, in some circumstances, be acceptable when produced by an established expert on the topic of the article whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable third-party publications. However, caution should be exercised when using such sources: if the information in question is really worth reporting, someone else is likely to have done so" – the information has proven time and again to be reliable, it is by an established expert on the topic and is relevant to the field and the author has been published by reliable third-party publications. A cursory review of the site would make that clear. It certainly is not a "self-published book, newsletter, personal website, open wiki, blog, or forum posting."
The CFDW does list its reference materials.

Sample CITE template[edit]

The following template can be used to cite the CFDW (see WP:CT for more information):

<ref>{{Cite web

|last = DeLassus
|first = David
|title = CFDW-Page-title
|publisher = [[College Football Data Warehouse]]
|url = CFDW-url-referenced
|accessdate = date-you-viewed-website}}</ref>

College/university websites[edit]

Editors in the project often reference the school website itself for historical data on coaching changes, records history, coaching tenure, etc. Project consensus supports that there is often no better source than the school itself for information on who the coach is at any given time.

The college or university sports home page is also normally referenced as an "external link" for many articles in the project. This is done to assist researchers and future editors.

Criticisms of college/university web pages: Critics have stated that college and university web pages are not reliable sources because it is similar to a "self-published" source and that if the information were noteworthy, other major sources would pick up the information.

Response to critics: The Sports Information Department (SID) of any college or university is considered a reliable primary news source--many of the major news reporting agencies get information from the SID. The project trusts the integrity of the colleges and universities under the umbrella of the NCAA and NAIA to produce reliable information particularly when it comes to facts (scores of games, coaching changes, records, and so forth). The relatively few discrepancies in outcome (such as the 1982 California vs. Stanford football game) actually add to the uniqueness and lore of college football.

College/university yearbooks[edit]

Local and regional publications[edit]

Local and regional publications such as The Topeka Capital-Journal are acceptable as supplementary or secondary information for most articles. However, small-college programs such as members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics may have truly national topics covered primarily by traditionally regional newspapers. Discretion may be used for such special cases.

Google News archive search[edit]

When looking for information about a particular game or an event in the past, it may be useful to use Google News' archive search function. ( Some helpful tips:

  • When faced with an overwhelming number of hits, try to limit the search by a series of dates.
  • Search for articles with no price.
  • Search for the exact phrase, rather than just the words (i.e. "Sugar Bowl", not Sugar Bowl)
  • If there are hundreds of results, don't feel that you have to incorporate every bit of information.

NCAA and NAIA[edit]

  • NCAA football record books
  • NCAA career statistics database: vast though limited source of information on players, coaches, and teams; contains information on players going back to the 2000 season, but, in many cases, covers coaches back to much earlier dates
  • NAIA official website: like the NCAA website, historical data on the NAIA website is incomplete, but it remains a reliable source for NAIA teams, players, coaches, and events

Offline sources[edit]

The absence of online sources does not negate any notability, especially for historical issues. Many verifiable offline sources are available for historic college football information.

Historical application[edit]

Online sources are preferred, but not always available. Football scores from 1910 don't make today's newspapers very often, so the project editors rely more on offline sources such as college historical data, newspaper archives, and published material. Even self-published material may be used if it meets the WP:SPS guidelines. Harold Grant (head coach at the College of Emporia from 1923 to 1927) is an example of how online and offline sources can be used to create a stub article.

Books, magazines, and newspapers[edit]

Not all sporting news published in hard copy format is reproduced on the internet, and sometimes it is placed on the web but only for a short time. This may leave only hard-copy material references available for certain topics within the project. Hard-copy only references are an acceptable practice for the project and for Wikipedia.