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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Monday, October 17, 2005

BCS is still a mess

OK, the first 2005 BCS poll is out, and although it isn't completely wrong, it's still a mess. Before I get too far into it, here's the Week 1 Rankings:
  1. USC (6-0)
  2. Texas (6-0)
  3. Virginia Tech (6-0)
  4. Georgia (6-0)
  5. Alabama (6-0)
  6. LSU (4-1)
  7. Texas Tech (6-0)
  8. Miami (FL) (5-1)
  9. UCLA (6-0)
  10. Penn St (6-1)
  11. Florida St (5-1)
  12. Boston College (6-1)
  13. Oregon (6-1)
  14. Wisconsin (6-1)
  15. Ohio St (4-2)
  16. Notre Dame (4-2)
  17. West Virginia (6-1)
  18. Auburn (5-1)
  19. Tennessee (3-2)
  20. Florida (5-2)
  21. TCU (6-1)
  22. Minnesota (5-2)
  23. Nebraska (5-1)
  24. Michigan St (4-2)
  25. California (5-2)
So, it's not too different from the Coaches or AP Poll (except ND gets the high hard one), but there are some big problems with the Computer Polls, if you ask me. Primarily, the idiotic Richard Billingsley Poll. Who the hell is Richard Billingsley and what sort of moronic programming is he using in his "scientific" poll? Basically, the new BCS is trying to even out the computer-driven polls by throwing out the highest and lowest of the six computer polls. It's a good thing, but why not just get rid of the RB poll? The others have a question or two, but none are as insane as the Billingsley poll. For instance, the rankings of the RB poll are the highest or lowest in 20 of the 25 rankings. That basically means it's rankings don't matter in 80% of the poll. Eighty Percent!! I think if you asked 100 random people who watch football to rank their teams, I'd bet the ranch that they'd be more "accurate" than 20%. Seriously. You could probably throw darts at a dartboard and be more accurate.

Just a "for instance" pick, he has ranked Wisconsin as the 5th best team in the country. Just let that sink in for a second...(hmm... fifth... hey, wtf?!) Upppp!! There ya go. Ya got it now?

Let's look deeper. Look as "far" down as 6-0 Alabama. They are undefeated in one of the toughest conferences in College Football. They beat #5 (at the time) Florida 31-3. They beat a tough S. Carolina team on the road(I know they're 3-3, but their only losses are at Georgia 17-15, vs. Alabama and at Auburn). But, the moronic RB poll has them ranked 13th. Thirteenth?!? He's got TCU ranked ahead of them. Are you serious? It's stupid decisions such as including this hack's poll in something as important as a National Championship that make the BCS poll so erroneous. Do they even think about what they're doing? Does Billingsley pay off the BCS panel or something?

In addition, they've taken out the strength of schedule component. WTF? So now teams can just play whoever they want and go undefeated and get a shot at a BCS bowl? God, I can't control myself here. Have they learned anything at all watching teams like Va Tech go undefeated in the Big East and then get absolutely stomped in their BCS bowl game? I guess not.

Now, we come to the Harris Interactive Poll. What the hell is the Harris Poll you may ask? How did the BCS decide that this poll would be worth ONE THIRD of the NCAA Championship picture? Well, the AP got so fed up last year with the BCS that it pulled their prestigious poll from the mentally-challenged BCS procedure. Therefore, the BCS had to scramble for something. Harris Interactive is an online polling place where members answer questions of the day and such so that they can get published in the news media structures around the country as some sort of "pulse" of what people are thinking. I won't get into how stupid that is, so let's go back to why this won't work for football. According to their website:
Harris Interactive has constructed a panel of 114 former players, coaches, administrators and current and former media who have committed to submitting ranking college teams each week. These panelists were randomly selected from among more than 300 nominations submitted by the conference offices and Notre Dame Athletics Director Kevin White. The panel has been designed to be a statistically valid representation of all 11 Division I-A conferences and Notre Dame.

Poll participants will rank the Top 25 teams on a weekly basis during the 2005 season, beginning September 25th through December 4th. The results will be released weekly and added to the College Football Poll News & Rankings.

Consistent with the BCS desire for transparency, panelist names and their final season ballots will be released following the December 4th overall rankings release.
Just who are these people? Exactly. If you look at the poll, it's basically a carbon copy of the Coaches Poll, so why is it even necessary? Well, so are the AP and ESPN Poll, so whatever. I just know that a lot of people in the sportsworld are up in arms about the Harris poll, and I'm with them. Why invent some new poll when others are out there you can use that have been scrutinized for years and years?

Well, at least the Harris Poll, the AP Poll and the USA Today poll all have Alabama ranked fifth, and the ESPN Power Rankings have them sixth, so they're miles ahead of the futile, brainless Richard Billingsley poll. But who isn't?

There are some intersting differences between the Computer polls and the often-biased "human" polls. For instance, the average rank of the Computer polls have Miami 13th, but the human polls have them sixth and seventh, and BCS has them eighth. Miami may be 5-1 and has only lost 10-7 to Florida St. in week one, but the teams they've beaten are Clemson, Colorado (overrated), South Florida, Duke and Temple. Their combined records are 10-21. Yeah, that's stellar competition. Oh yeah, strength of schedule no longer matters. Great. Probably because the drunk alumni don't like seeing their teams playing ranked teams as much as they like seeing Miami pound Duke 52-7 (OK, that's a conference game, but whatever), beat South Florida at home by 20 and take out winless Temple by 31. Or watch Texas whoop up on La. Lafayette by 57 or Rice by 41. Or see USC stomp the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors by 46 or humiliate Arkansas by 53. Yeah, that's definitely edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Get Real.

Also, the computer polls have Wisconsin averaged out at 8th and Oregon at 9th (except for Billingsley, who doesn't even have them in the Top 25!!!), but the "human polls" have them at 17th and 16th, respectively. Much of this has to do with extremely biased pre-season rankings and just plain ignorance. The computers aren't supposed to be biased and, at their best, they just look at what happened on the field and how that correlates to power. Does it work? That's up for debate, but East-Coast bias and other structural problems certainly do have an adverse effect upon the "human polls".

Basically, the point of this whole rant is let's finally put this puppy to bed and break out the brackets. Let the AP Poll (who've decided NCAA Football Champions since the beginning of time) and the Coaches Poll fill in the top eight football teams at season's end and let them play the thing out. Hell, include the ESPN poll if you want three voices to be heard. Decide which seven bowl games get to be "championship worthy" and rotate out the games so everyone gets the final game one out of seven years, so they all get a piece of the booty. Sure, the rest of the bowl games "won't matter" as much, but do they now? I mean, who watches the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl?

And take that frickin' computer away from Richard Billingsley. Please. Or some hacker out there take him out, will ya? Thanks.

For another view on the BCS screws things up, check out ESPN.com's Pat Forde here.

Finally, will Carpenter hold off Pettitte and the 'Stros and force a Game Six? We'll find out in a few hours.

And congrats to the Chicago White Sox for getting to the World Series for the first time since 1917, and the first time a Chicago baseball team has been in the Series since 1959, when the White Sox lost in six to the Dodgers. Congrats to the players, coaches and management structure. You've surprised us all (well, except for Kevin) and got it done. You deserve more credit than you've been given to this point, and probably will still be considered "underdogs" to whoever gets to the promised land with you. Whatever. Just go out and play the games and we'll see what happens. You've got Dan Patrick on your bandwagon (in round one, even), and are soon to have many more. Go get 'em, and best of luck to you.

But, I'll still be rooting for the Cubs next year, if that's alright with you. If only they could cut the cord with Capt. Toothpick (but that's another issue altogether).


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