Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pre-season college football rankings

I've come around to supporting the BCS. There are parts of the formula I don't agree with. But I don't think its a bad way to determine who plays in some bowl games and for the national title. Around the Horn just brought up one aspect of it that I absolutely disagree with.

The coaches rankings is part of the formula. I don't think using what coaches think of teams should count for 1/3 of the formula. But its not the worst measure they could have. However, the fact that the coaches rankings is done before a game is played is completely dumb. In theory, it is very difficult to know what teams are going to be good and which aren't before they play a game. Its even kind of difficult to know what teams are good after they have played a few games. Things like opponent strength and just luck in how well the team starts out the season can affect how good a team looks early on. So even having the rankings come out after a few games isn't really the best indication of how good teams are.

In reality, I'm sure the coaches aren't wildly off the mark with their rankings. Oklahoma is ranked #1 right now. I'm sure they will be a very good team, as will most of the teams in the top 25. But the problem is that once you deem a team as being good enough to be in these rankings, you are giving them an advantage over a team that isn't considered to be good enough to be in these rankings, and doing so without seeing them play a game.

This isn't a huge deal because coaches aren't completely stupid. They will adjust their rankings according to how teams perform. But given how close the final BCS rankings can be and all of the other variables that can affect the final score for a team, I don't think we should risk having something like a pre-season bias towards one team have a chance at affecting who plays for the national title. Using Duke basketball as a comparison since I don't strongly care for a college football team, I love that Duke is highly regarded each season. But I don't want them to get a one seed in the NCAA tournament based on their tradition of being an elite program. I want them to earn it by winning games. Crazy as it sounds, winning games is what its about, not perceptions.

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