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Sagarin's ratings are part of the problem, but could also be part of the solution.
By continuing to provide the BCS with his “Elo Chess” ratings, Sagarin is perpetuating the myth that the BCS is the best system we currently have absent a playoff to decide the national champion each season. But Sagarin has also bluntly stated that he doesn't really believe that.
So why preserve the lie?
First, it's USA Today's way of double-dipping—only this is much more heinous than George Costanza's party foul.
USA Today sponsors not only the Coaches' Poll, which counts as a third of the BCS ranking each week, but it also sponsors Sagarin's rating. That's right. USA Today is putting it's whole mouth in our BCS dip.
We're not suggesting any impropriety, but one poll in the BCS should be enough for any organization—even one as powerful as USA Today.
Secondly, there aren't many other ways mathematicians make a name for themselves. Seriously. How many other living mathematicians can you name? Sagarin probably isn't a particularly vain guy, but “BCS guru” looks good on any résumé.
We just wonder if he also admits on that CV that he doesn't really believe in the BCS or the “politically correct” quasi-rating he provides it.
While the standard "Predictor" rating, once part of the BCS equation has the personal backing of its creator, the "Elo Chess" rating does not. As we move from the current system to a new playoff format, which hand will the new system choose? The more accurate or the more "politically correct?"
The future playoff selection committee may choose to ignore computer ratings altogether. Or, they could take a good hard look at everything these systems spit out each and every week. Either way, it seems perfectly clear to us that Sagarin's "Elo Chess" rating just doesn't belong in the BCS, today or in the future.
After all, if Sagarin himself doesn't believe in it, why should we?