theknightswhosay

Rankings Reminder and Discussion

In Blogger Poll, College Football, Rankings Commentary on October 21, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Once again, please submit your top-25 rankings, by Wednesday if possible. I may not post them until Thursday evening though. If you’re like me and most of your sports time is reserved for the weekend, feel free to leave a comment on my most-recent rankings blog (once all the games are finished) on any of the various sites I post it. I haven’t had anyone (that I know of) contact me through intheneutralzone.com, which I allow to republish my WordPress blog automatically, but that’s the only place where I might not get it.

I will post my full rankings tomorrow, but in the mean time, you can view my computer ratings. I haven’t gotten many views this week, I guess because Kenneth Massey didn’t get around to posting most of the ratings until right around the time the BCS standings were released. I will vote Alabama #1, for what it’s worth; but for the time being, Missouri is ahead slightly in my formula.

If you don’t want to post your personal rankings publicly, that’s fine. Send a message. If you do post them publicly, I’ll take that as an invitation to discuss your list (and I think anyone else should be able to discuss it). For the vast majority of teams, I don’t have a comment. For instance, the team I primarily cheer for is LSU. An argument could be made that LSU is a top-10 team. Another argument could be made that because LSU has two losses, particularly combined with the fact that the two teams that beat LSU each have multiple losses, LSU should not be in the top 25. I don’t have a problem with either. Just please try to be aware of major results and treat similarly situated teams similarly. If you don’t, I’m still going to accept your list, at least for the foreseeable future; but I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request.

For instance, if team A (one loss) beats team B (only loss), and team B beats team C (only loss), and your ranking looks like this:
10. Team A
11. Team C

18. Team B

I might say something resembling, “Say, kind sir, were you aware that Team B beat Team C?” I would be especially inclined to ask that if Team C didn’t beat anyone ranked #25 or higher and obviously Team B did. We can also add in the fact that Team B beat Team D, who beat Team A.

Turning to the first release of the BCS ratings, I predicted Florida St. to come out ahead of Oregon, and they did. They deserve it. They probably won’t deserve to be #2 in December, but why don’t we put off talk about who deserves what in December at least until late November? I’m not going to do that right now though, because the talking heads on ESPN have already opened the door to that discussion.

ESPN suggested that Florida St.’s rating was “a mirage” and that Oregon would surpass the ’Noles. They may well be right about the latter, but I don’t understand why people insist on looking at it that way. Being #2 at the moment in no way suggests that you should remain #2 or higher as long as you don’t lose. In recent history (the last 10 years) there have been Michigan, Cal, and USC fans, among others, who never seemed to understand this; and I think the failure to address this was part of the problem with the public perception of the BCS.

If voters maintain the same confidence in Oregon that they have currently, I do think Oregon will surpass Florida St., but it won’t be because Florida St. isn’t more deserving at this moment.

I don’t see a legitimate dispute there. Florida St. is the only team to beat Clemson, one of two teams to beat Maryland, and one of two teams to beat Pittsburgh. That should count for more than being one of three teams to beat Washington and one of three teams to beat Tennessee. To be clear, I do think beating Washington is more impressive than beating Pittsburgh and beating Tennessee is more impressive than beating Maryland, but Oregon hasn’t had a third big decent win yet. Washington St. isn’t terrible, but they’re no Clemson. Florida St.’s best three wins certainly should put them above Oregon.

B-but Florida St. plays in the ACC and Oregon plays in the Pac-12 North!

I didn’t make the schedule. Oregon does have quite a remaining slate, but they shouldn’t get credit for the teams they’re GOING TO play, only the ones they’ve played so far. I don’t think rankings (especially not computer rankings, which comprise 1/3 of the formula) should assume when picking teams that they’re all going to win their remaining games. But I definitely anticipate being on the Oregon bandwagon (at least as a proponent of them being in the title game) if they beat UCLA next week and then after the following bye week win the following games in consecutive weeks: @Stanford, Utah, @Arizona, Oregon St., and the Pac-12 South champion (Most likely, the winner of UCLA and Arizona St.).

However, if they can’t do it and Florida St. keeps winning, then the current BCS standings will be vindicated. In my view, the reason a team derives more credit for a more difficult schedule is it overcame greater odds of losing. So it’s not a knock on Florida St. that I think any given team has greater odds of losing a game against Oregon’s future schedule than it would against Florida St.’s. Nor is it a knock on Oregon that I think any given team would have had greater odds of losing against Florida St.’s schedule to this point than it would have against Oregon’s. I think it makes more sense if you consider the BCS computers from the same perspective. You don’t get credit for overcoming those greater odds of losing until you’ve faced them.

I don’t know why this is the case, but it’s always seemed to me that voters usually have in the back of their minds, “What’s going to happen if both teams keep winning?” One time they didn’t necessarily do that was when Michigan was ranked #3 after losing to Ohio St. in 2006. They didn’t think #3 was going to be a BCS championship team until #2 USC lost, then they thought about who should be in that game and selected previously #4 Florida to “jump” Michigan.

The exception proves the rule in a way. They don’t want someone to feel cheated because they held serve, so to speak, and fell in the rankings anyway. So some of them are putting Oregon ahead because they know the Ducks will eventually be tested enough to substantiate a #2 ranking even if all of the top 4 go undefeated. Others are putting them ahead because they had a higher opinion of Oregon going into the year (and perhaps factored in the schedule at that point), something else that the computer formulas don’t contemplate.

So it’s not that one is right and the other is wrong, but the computers and the voters have different perspectives, and they’re both right from those respective points of view. Despite what I said above about Florida St. deserving #2, I would pick Oregon to beat Florida St. on a neutral field.

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  1. […] talked about this general topic before in reference to Florida St.’s initial BCS ranking, but I’ve also seen Missouri called a fraud, particularly now that they’ve lost a game, albeit […]

  2. […] talked about this general topic before in reference to Florida St.’s initial BCS ranking, but I’ve also seen Missouri called a fraud, particularly now that they’ve lost a game, albeit […]

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