Another Week in the BCS: How They Screwed Up Again

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Another Week in the BCS: How They Screwed Up Again

Another week is over, and another round of BCS rankings are upon us.  After spending some time looking over the rankings, two staggering things jumped out at me.  One in plain sight, and the other uncovered through some searching.

First was examining the human polls.  I noticed a very curious piece of work done by the voters of both the Harris and Coaches Poll:

A team that won a road conference game with a backup quarterback dropped in the polls.

That struck me as a bit odd, but I figured that the team in question was probably dropped because of the solid performance by the teams behind it.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed that the teams that had jumped in the polls had not even played over the weekend.

If you don't know who I am talking about yet, it's Hawaii.  After my article about the Warriors last week, I was curious to see how they would be treated for winning a tough road conference game.

Needless to say, the voters were not impressed with the victory.

It has now reached the point where BCS conference teams are being rewarded for sitting on their couches and watching games, while Hawaii is punished for taking the field and winning.

How is that possible? 

The other piece of data I found had to do with the computers.  In this case, it is the Sagarin Ratings that fall under scrutiny.

If you are unfamiliar with the way Sagarin works, he has three ratings.  One is his original rating that was used in the BCS, previous to the adjustment in margin of victory.  He has a second called the Elo_Chess, which is the one that the BCS uses currently that has eliminated the margin of victory factor.  The third is a predictor rating based on future games.Icon

This is Sagarin's most recent Elo_Chess Top 12:

1. Kansas

2. LSU

3. West Virginia

4. Missouri

5. Arizona State

6. Ohio State

7. Georgia

8. Virginia Tech

9. Boston College

10.  Florida

11. Oregon

12. Northern Iowa

Yes, Northern Iowa.  The one of Football Championship Subdivision fame. 

Now I have no doubt of Northern Iowa's place at the top of 1-AA.  They are a threat to win the national title at that level.

That said, are we really relying on a system that places Northern Iowa over teams such as USC and Oklahoma?  A rating which places Northern Iowa's strength of schedule at 152 and rating at 12, while Hawaii, in the same system, has a SOS of 153 and a ranking of 23—let alone ahead of countless BCS conference contenders such as Connecticut and Tennessee?

Of course, in the official BCS ratings, Northern Iowa is not to be found, with the teams behind them all being bumped up a notch. 

If you don't look for it, it's not really there.

What is to be learned from these two examples?  I will leave that up to you to decide.

I for one, sit helplessly confused, hoping it all just somehow works out in the end.

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