NC State finished the 2010 college football season ranked #25 in both the final Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. The Wolfpack finished the season 9-4 after scoring more points against (then ranked #22) West Virginia than the Mountaineers had allowed all season en route to a 23-7 win in the Champs Sports Bowl.
When reviewing the final polls, I noticed that fellow ACC member – Maryland – finished just ahead of the Wolfpack ranked #24 (AP) and #23 (USA Today).
Good for the Terps and the ACC!
Bad for common sense, facts, reality and fair analysis.
NC State and Maryland both finished the season with 9-4 records. Maryland beat NC State in the last weekend of the year with a controversial ending in College Park. I recognize that short sighted voters, fans and observers will take the easy way out and proclaim that â€˜Maryland beat NC State on the fieldâ€™ and therefore should have an advantage over the Wolfpack; but, I never hear those people say that NC State should be ranked ahead of Florida State because the Wolfpack defeated the Seminoles â€˜on the field’?
Newsflash to the world â€“ both of these schools played 13 games this season. I donâ€™t mind if you choose to weigh 7.7% of the season heavier than the other 92.3% of the yearâ€¦but head to head has got to have its limits.
In this entry published before the bowls were selected, we laid out an obvious case through strength of schedule and performance of why NC State had clearly produced a better season than Maryland. Since that data was compiled, NC State defeated a Top 25 Bowl opponent in Florida that had previously waxed the Terrapins 31-7; while Maryland waxed the worst defense in college football history in a game played a few miles from their campus. (Note: that awful defense did squeak by NC State in overtime in a rivalry game played in a poorly scheduled match-up in middle of the conference season in October.)
All of this has created a situation where in the well-respected Sagarin Computer Rankings provided by USA Today NC State finished the season a very strong #18 while Maryland finished the season ranked #38 .
Folks, that isnâ€™t even close. I would give you a little bit of wiggle room if the two programs finished within 5 or 7 spots of each other, but when using an objective formula to normalize an objective set of criteria, NC State finishes a clear TWENTY SPOTS ahead of Maryland in one of the most well-respected computer rankings available. TWENTY SPOTS! Yet the genius â€˜votersâ€™ in the world couldnâ€™t get close to figuring out the full body of work turned in by these two programs.
Please note, I am not just self selecting one set of computer rankings to make my case. A quick review of the 130+ rankings consolidated by Massey shows that NC State finished higher than Maryland in approximately 115 of 130+ different ranking services/metrics available.
Yet, only the subjective voters of the polls couldnâ€™t accurately analyze or figure out the obvious.
I donâ€™t blame the voters for these mis-steps. They have jobs, lives, priorities and it would be absurd to think a voter in Kansas could remotely have the time, resources and ability to dive as deep as we dove in the NC State-Maryland example.
Andâ€¦THAT^ is the point!
For years, I have been a firm believer that building a fantastic computer model that omits all of â€˜subjective pollsâ€™ is the most fair and accurate way to ultimately â€˜selectâ€™ the two teams for the BCS Championship Game. Of course the media and all of those around college football would never institute such an obvious answer to the annual controversy of who should advancing to the BCS Game because they would then have nothing about which to talk &/or complain all season. But, how else do we FAIRLY analyze what actually happens in thousands of games spread thousands of miles apart over a four month period?
Seriouslyâ€¦with a well-defined, completely transparent computer formula, what in Godâ€™s name is there to bitch about?
EVERY SCHOOL knows exactly what the formula for success is heading into the year. EVERY SCHOOL can work to craft their schedules and their seasons. There is no â€˜subjectivityâ€™ to â€˜strength of scheduleâ€™ as the SOS canâ€™t be argued as it is calculated by actual results on the field. EVERY SCHOOL is held to the exact same standards. Period.
The key to success is to get the formula right and then let it do its magic. There would be NO INCONSISTENCIES. in rankings. For example, if the impact of â€˜margin of victoryâ€™ is capped at 28 points, schools like Wisconsin this year (and USC, Texas, Florida and others in past years) canâ€™t influence some voters who like to see 70 points on the board against the mothers of the poor while other voters choose to penalize the schools for running up the score. Nobody cares that â€œAlabamaâ€ is on one set of jerseys while Nevada is on another set.
EVERY SCHOOL would be judged exclusively on their PERFORMANCE ON THE FIELD. Isnâ€™t this EXACTLY the mantra of all of the playoff supporters every year – â€˜Settle it on the field!!!â€™ Under ANY scenario â€“ including a pie-in the sky-playoff-pipedream â€“ it is next to impossible to â€˜settle it on the fieldâ€™ when humans get to apply their inconsistent and often inaccurate observations to process of choosing/ranking teams. With a â€˜master computer formulaâ€™ there would be no doubt that every school gets a fair shake and it would be settled on the field; it would simply be settled BY a computer using an objective set of criteria.
I donâ€™t care what some media member in New Mexico â€˜thinksâ€™ about teams. You shouldnâ€™t either. I donâ€™t care what Lee Corso â€˜thinksâ€™. If anyoneâ€™s â€˜thoughtsâ€™ of what teams were better than others were actually accurate, they would be living in Las Vegas and never losing a bet. It doesnâ€™t matter what people â€˜thinkâ€™ about teams; it only should matter what those teams actually do on the field! I only care WHAT HAPPENED ON THE FIELD, not what team you â€˜thinkâ€™ is better than others.
Take out the â€˜choosingâ€™. Implement a system that TRULY uses the data and performance of all of the teams for all of the season and you can avoid embarrassments like Maryland finishing the season ranked in front of a team that clearly out performed through 13 games.