Looking More Closely at ESPN’s Conference Rankings


I’ve been following ESPN’s college football conference rankings all year. I like them because they try to balance the impact of the top teams in the polls against the computers. When looking at the final results, I started thinking.

Is their logic sound?

When they started talking about the number of teams ranked in the top 25, I realized that there is an unfair comparison taking place. The SEC has 14 teams while the Big 12 only has 10 teams.

Of COURSE the SEC has more ranked teams.

When I look at the final AP poll of the regular season, there is a 6-2 count of teams in favor of the SEC. However, if you weight the count to normalize 14 teams down to 10 teams, you get 4 teams. (technically 4.3 teams but you can’t have a fraction of a team)

Since the Big 12 only has two ranked teams, there would likely be very little impact to the conference rankings. When I look at Sagarin’s conference rankings, the Big 12 and the SEC are the closest together so it wouldn’t take much to give the SEC the overall lead.

As for the Pac 12, it trails the SEC in both the computer and the polls and since they have only four teams ranked, discounting the SEC isn’t likely to make the difference.

Even though there currently would be no difference doesn’t mean that the method isn’t flawed.

Continue reading

Advertisements