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Posts Tagged ‘AP’

FIX IT

Once again, voters’ opinions have thrown the national championship race into turmoil. How it’s possible that Oklahoma is ranked ahead of Texas, who beat them, is beyond me. And again, as I wrote last week, no way does USC deserve to be ranked ahead of Texas Tech.

The NCAA has always been a duplicitous beast. It hammers the teams that it supposes have transgressed some of its hallowed rules, but then it lays off the teams and conferences, letting them formulate their own methods for determining their champions. The SEC proved that a championship game is the right way to go, and the Big 12 followed suit. Now it’s time for the Big 10 and the PAC 10 to get on board. The recent trend of voters’ rewarding conferences who do have a championship game is promising, as seen last year when 2-loss LSU played for the BCS title in lieu of 2-loss USC. At least they got that one right.

But this year the polls are on their backs, and the official is counting. Something must be done to fix the system. I’ve already given one idea that could work without instituting a playoff, which the powers-that-be are so adamantly opposed to. But a few things must happen without question: The Big 10 and PAC 10 must crown their champions in a championship game. The Big 10 will have to either add a team or cut a team for that to happen, but if Notre Dame would get off their high horse and join, both the Big 10 and ND would be better off for it. All the PAC 10 really has to do is schedule the game and play it, since they’ve already got an even number of teams, although it would be nice if they’d add a couple more teams to the pot.

The Big 10 and PAC 10 may already have plans to that effect. Surely they see that their lack of a conference championship is costing them consideration at season’s end. Everyone said the SEC would put themselves out of contention when they started up their championship game, but in fact, just the opposite has happened. The SEC is getting more consideration because of the championship game. Several other conferences have followed suit. At this point, to refrain is nothing more than a display of stubbornness.

There are ways to fix the system, NCAA. We all know you hate the idea of a playoff, despite the wishes of the fans of the sport, but there are other ways than the BCS. Use your imagination and come up with one, or just ask me, I’ve got a guaranteed formula for success. I call it the Super Conference.

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USC Leapfrogs Texas Tech?

AP voters, you’ve really screwed up this time. With USC leapfrogging Tech in the most recent polls, the BCS picture–still not reliable due to its dependence on voters’ opinions–is once again screwed up.

Let’s look at the losses these two teams have suffered. Both have one loss; USC’s to Oregon State, a 7-3 team with a conference loss to weakling Stanford, and TT’s to Oklahoma, another one-loss team whose only loss came at the hands of Texas, current one-loss #2 in the BCS. Aside from that, TT plays in a much stronger conference–and don’t give me that crap about how USC’s defense is the best in the nation, if TT was playing in the lackluster PAC-10 their defense would look stellar too.

How is it possible that two teams with one loss each can be ranked so wrong? There’s no way SC deserves to be ranked ahead of TT, other than the love affair current AP voters have with all-things Pete Carroll. Give us a break, AP, vote for body of work instead of who you’d like to see winning. At worst, TT shouldn’t have dropped below fifth.

The Big 12–of which I am not counted as a fan, by the way–should have some combination of teams ranked currently at numbers 2, 3, and 4. Period. How you rank them is up in the air, but there’s no question in my mind that Texas’s, Oklahoma’s and Texas Tech’s one loss each is a much better loss than either Florida (who lost to a pretty good team in Mississippi and should be ranked #5) and USC, who lost to Oregon State and should be ranked no higher than #6.

What’s really frustrating about this is that I don’t even see how there can be any question that it should be this way. So long as you’re looking at things rationally and with no bias, at this stage in the season the top ten is pretty clear cut. At least it is if you’re not an AP voter.

Here’s the current Houndstooth Top 10. There’s not much difference between this poll and the AP poll, except 1-5 and flip flopping Utah and Penn State. But at this point in the season every little spot counts big time, and USC just doesn’t deserve to be a top 5 team:

  1. Alabama
  2. Texas
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Texas Tech
  5. Florida
  6. USC
  7. Utah
  8. Penn State
  9. Boise State
  10. Georgia (I’d have no problem putting Oklahoma State in the ten spot)

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bcs.jpgI know I’m in the minority here, but I am not a proponent for a playoff. People argue that college football is the only major sport without a playoff, and they’re correct, unless you count the season itself, which winds out like one long playoff to reach the championship. No, a playoff isn’t needed in NCAA football, but I’ll concede that a better system for determining who the National Champion is. The plus-one system is the best I’ve heard so far and I’d wholeheartedly support it, but beyond that I don’t want it. I want the best team in the country to win the National Championship, not, as happens with other teams who win their sports’ respective championships, because a team got on a hot streak when it mattered most. No.

But the current method, the BCS, is too heavily influenced by opinion polls, as both the Harris Poll and the Coaches Poll count for a third of the calculation apiece. The remaining third is compiled via six computer polls, throwing out the highest and lowest score for each team and averaging the remaining four. The computer rankings do not account for opinion, they calculate based on record and strength of schedule, unless you consider the fact that the computer rankings are based upon opinion polls. Originally the BCS used the AP Poll, but the AP withdrew their permissions. So the NCAA created another poll to replace the AP in its calculation. 

So why not get rid of the polls?
Because the polls are fun. 90% of the questions from fans on College Football Gameday concern the polls (“Why isn’t (insert team name here) getting more respect from the polls?”). A lot of people argue that no polls should come out until later in the season, at least week four or six, and I’ve even heard some argue that the polls should be done away with entirely. But this isn’t realistic at all (–this is my nice way of saying get real, dumbass), and besides, as I said, the polls are fun. And, more importantly: the polls are popular. Extremely popular. People eagerly await the first preseason poll and the consult the polls regularly throughout the season. But that’s exactly my point: the polls are fun. Sometimes they work, sometimes not, but so long as they’re based on opinion they will be flawed when it comes to determining the National Champion or even for determining who should have the honor to play in the championship game. The first step in building a better system will be to remove opinion from the formula, and derive the results from performance, which is exactly what the computer ratings are designed to do. I’m not going to argue that the combcs-trophy.jpgputer polls are perfect–I’d personally like to see quality losses hurt a team a little less than it does, and I’d also like to see strength of schedule count for more–but at least they aren’t opinionated.

The AP can still award its popular choice for National Champion, as they have since time immemorial, but the official champion should be awarded based on performance alone. Which is why I would like to see the computer polls be the deciding factor to determine the unbiased NCAA Football National Champion. Let’s face it: they’re already separate awards anyway. LSU won the BCS title in ’03 while USC won the AP. So why incorporate their rankings at all if not for popularity’s sake? There is no other reason that I can think of. But the method is not popular, regardless, and may never be until a playoff (which will likely never be) is instituted. So get rid of the polls, determine the players in the National Championship game by the computer averages, add a plus one if needed, determined on a year-by-year basis (sometimes it’s unnecessary), and let it ride.

Now, if you really want to fix the system, look here.

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