Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mailbag Time Again

Guru gets so much mail, especially right after the new BCS standings come out, it takes time to get through them. But here it is, the highlights:

  • Can USC still make the title game?

This is the most asked question, and at the moment, it's not looking good.

All but one of the following will have to happen for the Trojans -

Penn State will have to drop a game (unlikely).

Texas will have to lose to Texas Tech, and then Tech will have to lose to someone else (also unlikely - because the Longhorns should win Saturday).

Alabama will have to lose once, but not to a one-loss Florida or Georgia team in the SEC title game (possible but not probable).

Oklahoma will have to miss the Big 12 title game (probable).

As of now, USC is too far back in the pecking order. A lot will have to happen for that door to be open again. And of course, don't forget that at the moment, the Trojans don't even control their own destiny in terms of winning the Rose Bowl bid.

  • How can the BCS possibly think that this formula works when the computer polls are so incredibly screwed ... er, skewed? Consider these disparities, particularly in the SEC, which is the league that gets kicked in the teeth the most by these polls (using last week's rankings):

Florida, ranked #5 by the AP, gets no love...
Anderson & Hester - 10th
Billingsley - 8th
Colley - 12th
Massey - 11th
Sagarin - 17th
Wolfe - 20th

Somehow, Mr. Sagarin and Mr. Wolfe both agree that the Gators rank behind Boise State, Utah, TCU, Tulsa and Ball State. Interesting, particularly when Sagarin's predictive index, which he says is far more accurate at predicting actual outcomes, says the Gators would destroy any and all of these teams by 15, 17, 13, 22 and 18 points, respectively.

Of course, Ball State, ranked 18th by the AP, gets tons of respect from Sagarin and Wolfe, but no one else...

Anderson & Hester - 18th
Billingsley - unranked
Colley - 17th
Massey - 23rd
Sagarin - 13th
Wolfe - 10th

It would seem that these polls should have some measure of consistency in their rankings. When the numbers are so wildly scattered all over the board, how can this system possibly be taken seriously?

This brings back one of something I've pounded on for the last few years. Margin of victory needs to be put back into the computers, otherwise, it's just a farce.

You mention Sagarin's Predictor Index, which by his own admission is more accurate than the ELO_CHESS version that's used by the BCS. A gambler wanting to bet on the games would not even take a second look at ELO_CHESS as they know the ratings are bogus. Winning margins do speak volumes about a team's strength. You think the voters don't consider that when they're making up their ballots?

That MOV is verboten in the computers will someday come back to bite the BCS big time - hopefully sooner than later.

  • Assuming UF goes without losing for the rest of the season, can they overcome and otherwise undefeated penn state and/or a 1 loss big 12?

The real answer is NO (to the first part) and maybe (to the second part).

The Gators will not jump an undefeated Penn State team but they might squeeze into the top 2 if everything else falls in place for them. For starters, they need Texas to lose to Texas Tech this week and for Tech to lose somewhere down the road. I think they can jump a one-loss Oklahoma or Texas Tech, but they'll need a loss by Texas big time.

  • Given the following scenario, which team would play for the Big 12 Championship:

Texas has already beaten Oklahoma. If Texas Tech beats Texas and Oklahoma Beats Texas Tech, then who plays for the Big-12 Championship (assuming they all end up with only one loss).

As mentioned in a previous mailbag session, this will come down to who's where on the BCS standings - and voila! scores matter.

Assuming they're all close games, I think Texas has the best chance to be ranked higher than the other teams. The reason is that Tech suffers from a recognition deficit and they'll automatically be the lowest ranked among the three teams. And then, the lemmings known as the pollsters will put Texas ahead of Oklahoma because of head-to-head results. Of course, if somehow Tech blows out Texas, it'll all be different.

  • If Texas Tech wins this week ... can I argue the undefeated Red Raiders have a better win (over Texas) than Penn State and should be in the top 2 ??

You may argue that and you may be right. but the voters are still not going to put Texas Tech ahead of Penn State - unless it's a big-time blowout - because of ... again, brand recognition. Polls are inherently biased in favor of traditional football powers. That's why the heavy emphasis on human polls is a huge flaw in the current formula.

  • I'm hearing a lot about PSU not making the championship game, even if they are 12-0. Losing the spot to a one loss sec or big 12 team. I don't think it is a possibility. what are the chances? I do see them out if they lose one.

The only scenario that Penn State doesn't make it to the BCS title game, if it goes 12-0, is if Texas and Alabama both stay undefeated. The Lions will not get jumped by a one-loss team. There is just no such possibility.

That said, PSU could get jumped by an undefeated Texas Tech, though the Lions have a healthy edge in the computer ratings. But yes, if PSU loses another game, it's done.

  • If Oregon State wins out and wins the PAC10 Auto Bid, where do you think a Oregon State team that is 9-3 overall from the PAC10 would be ranked in the final Poll? If they become the BCS Auto Bid, I would expect a HUGE jump in the Human (biased) polls, but how much would it be? 25? 20? 15? Higher or lower than the ACC champ? Higher or lower than the Big East champ?

For that to happen, OSU most likely would have to win its remaining five games. If the Beavers do, then they'll be in the top 25 in the polls, probably in the high teens with a 9-3 record.

Just to show how much attention voters pay to non-glamour teams. Oregon State in fact received ZERO votes from either the Coaches poll or Harris poll this past week. None. What did the Beavers do last week? Oh, they were idle.

  • What of TCU getting a shot at a BCS bowl? Even with one loss they're still positioned well in the rankings. If they manage a win over Utah, all they would seem to require is a Boise loss. And what do you figure the odds are of TCU passing BSU if they both win out? TCU has the tougher schedule to finish the year and will certainly start to close the gap, but will it be enough?

TCU is poised to become the first non-BCS team to win a BCS bid without going undefeated. If TCU beats Utah and wins its remaining games and finishes 11-1, there's a good chance that the Horned Frogs would end up in a BCS bowl.

The catch? Boise State winning out. Without a BSU loss, it's highly unlikely that TCU will pass BSU in the BCS standings. Their poll numbers will be comparable, but the computers give a preponderance of consideration to teams without a loss, so a 12-0 BSU's computer ratings will trump an 11-1 TCU's ratings, thus serving as the tiebreaker. TCU needs a BSU loss.

  • How does the BCS calculate really low scores? For example, if South Florida loses on the road this Thursday, and drops even lower in the polls ...do they continue to give BCS points for "others getting votes" category? If South Florida falls out of the top 25 in the Human polls, and continues to be 40+ in the computer polls, how does the BCS calculate their BCS rank?

It matter not whether a team is actually ranked in the top 25 in the human polls. The BCS formula uses votes received as the numerator, divided by the total votes available (denominator). So any team that receives at least one vote will be placed in the standings

But since South Florida's computer ratings are non-existent at the moment, it'll have to rack up all the points from the human polls - assuming they continue to win. Another loss might permanently banish the Bulls outside of the BCS top 25.

  • Well, two weeks ago or so I questioned about the two non-BCS teams. I'm back to say the Guru was right and I was wrong. The Big Ten WILL end up with two teams in the top 14. I really expected OSU to fall 5 to 8 places (similar to Michigan State's 10-place drop the week before and Mizzu's drop the week before that). They didn't, they only fell like 3 places.

    So, I guess I'm here to say "you were right and I was wrong!"

The Guru appreciates the candor. Just don't doubt the Guru ever again!


Tom said...

"Margin of victory needs to be put back into the computers, otherwise, it's just a farce."

"Polls are inherently biased in favor of traditional football powers. That's why the heavy emphasis on human polls is a huge flaw in the current formula."

Basically, there is nothing redeemable about this system, and it needs to be flushed down the toilet like the crap that it is. Thanks for clearing this up.

Anonymous said...

Don't know were to put this question ....

What can the Guru tell us about the formula to re-evaluate which conferences are Automatic Qualifiers. I know the BCS powers evidently just re-evaluated this year, but the formula was not really explained.

This says they use:
1) 4 year average of highest ranked team - That's easy and straight forward
2) number of league teams in the top25 - again that is pretty easy and straight forward
3) Average BCS ranking of all member schools - That one I don't get - since the Harris and Coaches polls only go to something like 35 teams, you can't calculate the BCS rank of EVERY school, or do you average in whole bunch of teams tied at around 45? What is the BCS ranking of Syracuse for the Big East Average? What is the BCS ranking of SDSU for the MWC average?

Anonymous said...


Here's a question for you...

Assuming Penn St. goes undefeated and plays in the BCS Championship game, who do you think they would play:

1. A one-loss Florida team who just beat Georgia, SC, FSU, and Alabama in the SEC Championship.

2. A one-loss Texas who just won the Big 12 championship (with a loss this weekend at Texas Tech) who also beat Oklahoma, Ok St., and Missouri (twice).

3. A one-loss Alabama (loss at LSU) but wins the SEC championship.

4. A one loss Texas Tech (loss to Ok St. but beat Texas and Oklahoma)

5. A one-loss Oklahoma St. (loss to Texas, but beat Texas Tech and Oklahoma)

6. etc.... you get the point

A one loss SEC champ or a one loss Big 12 champ.

Anonymous said...

If Ohio State meets USC in the 2009 Rose Bowl, it will NOT be the "third time the two teams have met in 12 months."

It would guarantee that the two teams WILL meet three teams in 12 months, because they will play again, in Columbus, in the '09 season.

A fine point, to be sure, but if we're talking about who goes to the Rose Bowl, we should have all the facts straight.