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.

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Adding One More BCS Rule


Right now, there are two debates raging about the BCS. The first is about streamlining the BCS system and only worrying about a title game. I’m torn on that idea, but really don’t care enough either way to debate at this time. The other is this nonsense about an all-SEC National Title game.

Keeping in mind that being an Auburn grad, I am very pro-SEC , let’s look at the sheer idiocy of this concept.

When matching two teams from the same conference with each other, you aren’t creating anything unique for the bowls. In fact, you are re-hashing a debate that has theoretically been settled. One team is the conference champion, the other is not. Do we really need another game that will bring the title of the conference champion into play? This is even more ridiculous when talking about conferences with either a full round-robin schedule or a Conference Championship.

Which bring us to the other issue, How can you be the National Champion when you aren’t even your Conference Champion?

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The Best SEC Teams, 1996-2007


So, Doug Segrest of The Birmingham News decided to play a simulation tourney, the SoS Playoffs II, to determine the best SEC teams of the last 12 years. Setting the tournament up like a mini World Cup tournament, he structured it as follows:

  • Four groups of five teams each (20 teams total).
  • Each group plays a home-home set against each opponent for a total of 8 eight each.
  • The top two teams in each group advances to the quarterfinals.
  • From there it is single elimination to the finals with each game played at a “neutral” site.

Each game is run using the NCAA Football SimMatchup tool at WhatIfSports. It is a fun little device. He takes the first outcome and then captures the box scores. It only goes back to 1996 in stats, thus the limitation in this bit of entertainment.

As a little disclaimer, I started this post about halfway through the Quarterfinals, so I had no idea of the results when I started.

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SEC Repeat in 2008?


It has been a couple of good years for the SEC in football. We’ve won two consecutive championships over Ohio State. To be fair, this past year, it is hard to say who the best two teams out there were. I figure poor Southern Cal should have been there instead of Ohio State. That is with the benefit of hindsight though. That Stanford game looked pretty bad on the ol’ resume.

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Ranking College Football Winning Tradition


So, the SEC posted a All Time Final AP Football Poll. It is fairly entertaining and takes into all the AP polls since the beginning in 1936. Their methodology is pretty straightforward:

From 1936 to 1961 the wire service ranked 20 teams. From 1962 to 1967 only 10 teams were recognized. From 1968 to 1988 AP again resumed its Top 20 before expanding to 25 teams in 1989. Points were awarded based on a team’s finish in the final AP poll each year. Points were awarded on a 20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis from 1936 to 1988, and a 25-24-23-22-21-20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis 1989 to the present.

They gave out half points for ties which was also a good move. There is a flaw in their methodology though. If you were ranked before1989, you got an 5 points less than you would have if you had received an equivalent rating since then. This is unfair as teams shouldn’t be penalized for playing well before the AP voted for 25 teams. To be an accurate measure, being ranked number 1 in 1950 should weigh the same as 2007.

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