Simeon is definitely the lead dog in the CPL Red Bird, but solid decade performances from programs like Curie, Hubbard and Taft help the league elevate itself considerably higher than most of their CPL brethren.
Simeon is definitely the lead dog in the CPL Red Bird, but solid decade performances from programs like Curie, Hubbard and Taft help the league elevate itself considerably higher than most of their CPL brethren. — Shaw Media File Photo

A solid conference is usually defined by its depth.

And many of the leagues we find in the discussion of the conference's that finished in Friday Night Drive's conference rankings between 41 and 50, largely have an issue with establishing that depth.

Although some of these conferences do have a stalwart or two, and sometimes those conference's stalwarts evolve as well, but the lack of depth from the middle of the pack or programs that consistently struggle to climb out of the lower tiers hurt the conference's overall score.

Here's a look at the conferences ranked 50 through 41 in the Friday Night Drive conference countdown.

50. Mississippi Valley (54.166 decade rating): Highland has been the clear pacesetter for this conference, but the overall balance of the group has kept this league afloat with a solid rating. Most of the teams have maintained a consistent middle-of-the-pack type of grade, which keeps them from tumbling too far.

49. Vermilion Valley (55.333 decade rating): Bismarck-Henning has been a consistent force in this conference, but the volatility in this league's ranking has a lot to do with the up-and-down pendulum that is Westville, which has had some very strong seasons and some pretty rough ones in the last decade.

48. Apollo (55.998 decade rating): Effingham's recent surge has helped the league move up a bit in recent years, while most of Taylorville's damage has been done after it left the Central State Eight. The back end of the decade is the primary reason why this conference's rank isn't all that strong.

47. Little Illini (56.221 decade rating): The identity of this league's lead team seems to change hands every couple of years, which leads to a solid, if not spectacular overall performance from this conference. There's only one team in the league that scores as above average over the decade, but there's only one that's considered well below average, too.

46. Western Illinois Valley South (56.5 decade rating): Carrollton does a good job of carrying the mail for this league, but it doesn't get a lot of help from its other members in building a resume. Three teams out of six carry team scores that are well below average in the grand scheme of things.

45. NIC-10 (58.2 decade rating): Aside from the success of the Rockford Boylan program, which includes two state titles at the beginning of the decade, the other programs haven't done much damage in the postseason. The locked conference provides a decent floor, but without much sustained playoff success the ceiling is limited.

44. West Central (58.332 decade rating): This loose affiliation of just three teams probably isn't the best definition of a conference. But the three-team grouping usually seems to have at least one of the three stepping up with a good season year after year leading to this moderate rating.

43. CPL Red Bird (58.832 decade rating): Simeon is definitely the lead dog in this pack, but solid decade performances from programs like Curie, Hubbard and Taft help the league elevate itself considerably higher than most of their CPL brethren.

42. South Suburban Red (59 decade rating): Other than Richards, most of the teams in this conference, excluding a small run by Evergreen Park in the early portion of the decade, have struggled to get too much of a serious foothold.

41. Lincoln Prairie (59.055 decade rating): This conference pretty much defines middle of the pack as it has had a few programs post fairly solid pedigrees (Argenta-Oreana, Arcola) and several more that find themselves on the other end of the spectrum.