Monday, December 11, 2006

Rankings and other geeky stuff

June 19, 2008 Note: This is a post that originally appeared on Golden's Football Rankings and is reporduced here for posterity.

As some of you may know, I have adapted a version of the Golden rankings for college basketball. I have also maintained my own database of the Golden college football rankings, with a slight modification in the guidelines. Instead of not counting the wins over I-AA teams, I count them, but do not record any bonus points for opponent’s wins, opponent’s opponents’ wins, margin of victory or road wins. I do penalize teams for losses to I-AA teams by counting them as losses to 10 loss teams with 40 opponents’ opponents’ losses. The rationale is that the average I-AA team would finish at or near the bottom of most I-A conferences. Teams should get some credit for winning those games, but not much.
So my rankings have been slightly different than the ones published on the website most of the year. For the most part, the difference in the rankings has been one of degrees, with little variation in the order of teams. So I found it interesting when the “official” Golden rankings ended up with Florida as the #1 team, followed by Ohio State and Michigan. My version of the rankings, which gave teams points for beating I-AA teams had Florida #3, behind OSU and Michigan. Why would Florida have less points in relation to the other two, in my system, where they got points for their win over Western Carolina, and all of the SEC wins of over I-AA teams? I went back and double checked all my entries to make sure I hadn’t entered anything wrong for the three teams.
As I did this, it occurred to me that the difference came in the fact that the poll is based on the average points per game, not total points. Florida was ranked lower in my version of the rankings because their Western Carolina win was their lowest point total of the season, outside of the Auburn loss. Put it another way, the reason Florida’s schedule appears more difficult in the Golden rankings is that their weakest opponent is dropped from that calculation. If you removed Michigan’s win over Ball State, or Ohio State’s win over Illinois, their average points per game would shoot up past Florida’s. It’s the same reason Auburn was atop the 2004 Golden rankings, their win over I-AA Citadel was not factored in. Essentially the Golden rankings as they are configured now unfairly reward the high level teams that play I-AA opponents by not counting those weak teams in their schedule strength.

-Speaking of basketball rankings, doing the rankings for the first time, I have been struck at how the Missouri Valley Conference has jumped up the conference rankings. They’ve done it by creating strength throughout the entire conference. The league is 62-18 out of conference, all teams are over .500 and they have wins over Big Ten, Big Twelve, Big East, SEC, and ACC teams. They’ve also beaten other strong mid-majors, like Butler, who won the preseason NIT, and last year’s Cinderella, George Mason. If they keep this up, they might bring home another four bids to the big conference.

-I was happy to see Greg Schiano and Rich Rodriguez turn down big money to stay in the Big East. There are some things more important than money (although both will be rewarded handsomely for staying). Soul and heart, and being a part of a tradition. Rodriguez is an alum and is setting himself to be a big part in the history of Mountaineer football. Schiano could be the lynchpin of a new history in Rutgers. That’s not to say that Alabama and Miami don’t have a history and tradition of their own. It’s just that those two coaches are not a part of those histories in the same way they are in the current locations.
-Alabama, in particular, has really lost the soul and heart of a once great program. By firing Mike Shula, and alum who came in under challenging circumstances, the Tide has become the same sort of mercenary program that swiped their last good coach, Dennis Francione. Now that they have left at the alter by many of the big names out there, they are hoping they can get lucky, ala Ohio State in 2001, and hire a little known coach who can recapture the essence of Bear Bryant’s program.
-Tom O’Brien’s move didn’t make any sense to me. Boston College to NC State? Not only an inter conference move, and inter division move. He has really established a strong program at BC, one that looked like they could be a serious player in the ACC for some time. Was the money in Raleigh that much better?
-The hot rumor around these parts is former UofM quarterback, Jim Harbaugh to Central Michigan to replace the departed Brian Kelly. Harbaugh spent the last year at non-scholarship, I-AA San Diego and led them to an 11-1 record. A lot of people around here would love to see him back in Ann Arbor, where he grew up.