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View Full Version : BCS: computers must no longer use margin of victory in their formulas


Red Dog
06-21-02, 12:09 PM
http://espn.go.com/ncf/news/2002/0621/1397538.html



Several pollsters expected to leave BCS
Scripps Howard News Service

The Bowl Championship Series -- college football's lightning rod for controversy since its inception in 1998 -- is veering off in yet another direction on its elusive search for the perfect formula to provide a No. 1-vs-No. 2 national title game.

BCS coordinator Mike Tranghese (also commissioner of the Big East Conference) has notified the founders of the eight computer rankings that make up one fourth of the BCS formula that in order to be included in this year's rankings, the computers must no longer use margin of victory in their formulas.

At least one of the computer experts -- David Rothman -- has already declined to change his formula. Herman Matthews, founder of the Matthews/Scripps Howard rankings -- has followed suit.

And according to Matthews, two others -- Jeff Sagarin of USA Today and Peter Wolfe of the Los Angeles Times -- are unlikely to change their formulas as well.

"I just don't think I'm going to change my rankings,'' Matthews said Thursday after receiving the following e-mail from Tranghese:

"My apologies for the informality of this writing, but I am in San Francisco at the CCA (Collegiate Commissioners Association) Meetings and wanted to get this to you in a timely manner.

"The BCS Board has asked me to extend to you the opportunity to continue as part of the BCS poll.

"One condition of your continuance in the BCS will be the elimination of Margin of Victory in your calculations.

"Please inform me by no later than 3:00 p.m. on Monday, June 24 of your willingness to continue with the BCS without the use of Margin of Victory as a component ... '

Rothman was less than diplomatic in his response.

"Sorry, but I don't sign my name to something which isn't the very best I can do. Not only do I use margin of victory to some extent, but the BCS should accept no computer system that would give a tie in the case of:

A 10, B 6.

B 9, C 6.

C 7, A 6.'

"Since most humans polled would agree that the correct ranking is A, B, C in this test. The current efforts to remove margin of victory are only going to degrade the computer's image, as human participants will continue to do the best they can, utilizing all information that can be ascertained, including margins.''

Three computer rankings do not take into account margin of victory -- Seattle Times, Richard Billingsley and Wes Colley -- while Ken Massey has agreed to change his formula to eliminate margin of victory. All four will apparently remain in the BCS formula.

Started in 1998 by SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, the BCS has produced four consecutive undefeated national champions (Tennessee, Florida State, Oklahoma and Miami). But the last two years the system has been mired in chaos over who should be playing the top-ranked team in the BCS 1-2 national title game.

In 2000, Florida State (11-1) got the nod to play Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl despite Miami (10-1) beating the Seminoles during the season. The Sooners' 13-2 victory did little to quell the controversy, fueled by many coaches who believed the Seminoles' larger margin of victory landed them in the title game.

Last year a string of late-season upsets led to the closest final BCS standings ever. Nebraska (11-1) got an invitation to the Rose Bowl by a tiny margin over Pac-10 champion Oregon (10-1) and Colorado (10-2), a team that routed the Cornhuskers, 62-30, in the regular season and claimed the Big 12 championship.

Miami's 37-14 romp over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl only solidified the opinion of critics who said the 'Huskers had no business playing in a national title game when they couldn't even win the Big 12.

Matthews said removing margin of victory from his rankings produced even more statistical nightmares. He ran his formula -- minus margin of victory -- after this year's bowl games. Miami remained No. 1 but Tennessee, No. 2 prior to the bowls, fell to No. 3 despite a 45-17 victory over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. The bowl loss actually moved Michigan up in the amended rankings from 20th to 18th.

"It is clear that such a move lowers the accuracy of the rankings as well as predictions,'' Matthews wrote in a response to Tranghese. "It is surprising that you would bow to the demands of a public that knows so little about these matters and has reacted to a great extent on emotions fueled by perceived injustices.

"The concern of coaches who wish to avoid running up scores is commendable but unnecessary. Virtually all systems using MOV also use a diminishing returns principle that prevents excessive increase of ratings in such cases.''

Matthews later pulled out of the BCS rankings.



I think most of us agree that the BCS sucks. However, I don't like the elimination of margin of victory as a computer component is a good idea. I think a team should be rewarded for a decisive victory (for example, a 21 pt victory over a 3 pt victory). A diminishing returns feature should be built so that there is little difference btwn a 40 pt victory and 20 pt victory though.

das Monkey
06-21-02, 12:14 PM
I agree to an extent (with you, not the article per se). Margin of Victory is a bad idea, but not having it is probably just as bad. You really need a diminishing returns to make it work in any capacity. But the BCS is a fatally flawed system to begin with. I am of the belief that a win is a win is a win, though, so I hate the concept of margin of victory, but since scaredy-cat schools refuse to play the Oregons of the world, I don't know how else to balance the scales.

das

twikoff
06-21-02, 12:19 PM
i dont like the idea of using margin of victory
but on the same note.. i think it should have been left in

my reasoning.. the computer rankings generally make much more sense then the human rankings, and most of the computers are using margin of victory to some extent (but its a small extent in their formula)..
There is no way you can convince me that the human voters dont use margin of victory in their voting.. no way I would believe that..
even if its not intentional, they are using it.

twikoff
06-21-02, 12:23 PM
Originally posted by das Monkey
I agree to an extent (with you, not the article per se). Margin of Victory is a bad idea, but not having it is probably just as bad. You really need a diminishing returns to make it work in any capacity. But the BCS is a fatally flawed system to begin with. I am of the belief that a win is a win is a win, though, so I hate the concept of margin of victory, but since scaredy-cat schools refuse to play the Oregons of the world, I don't know how else to balance the scales.

das

i agree.. but maybe they should leave it how it is.. and make strength of schedule more of a factor then..
sure FSU and Miami cant help the fact they play in extremely weak conferences, but they can control their out of conference games

fsu of course does play miami and florida out of conference
and miami will play florida, florida state, and tennessee

so maybe those two arent great examples

Red Dog
06-21-02, 12:25 PM
Wonder how this will effect some Vegas lines.

Red Dog
06-21-02, 12:29 PM
Do the computer rankings take home vs road games into account? That is a must IMO. I know that the RPI does not for basketball which is a travesty.

Red Dog
06-21-02, 03:21 PM
I really think the best way to tweak the BCS is to force ESPN and AP to hold back their 1st poll until the first week that the BCS is normally released (early-mid October). There is no legitimate reason to have a preseason poll or polls after each team has only played 2-3 games. The only reason that I can see for it is so that the networks can hype their matchups (#3 vs #5 and so forth), but do we really need rankings to know that the Florida/Miami matchup on Sept. 7 is a huge one? I think not.

KitchenSink
06-21-02, 03:23 PM
I still think they need to factor where teams stand in their conference into the formula.

twikoff
06-21-02, 03:27 PM
Originally posted by Red Dog
The only reason that I can see for it is so that the networks can hype their matchups (#3 vs #5 and so forth), but do we really need rankings to know that the Florida/Miami matchup on Sept. 7 is a huge one? I think not.

which is the #1 reason.. and its the reason why it wont ever change

twikoff
06-21-02, 03:28 PM
Originally posted by KitchenSink
I still think they need to factor where teams stand in their conference into the formula.

despite the fact that alot of teams play in much weaker conferences??

Red Dog
06-21-02, 03:30 PM
Originally posted by twikoff


despite the fact that alot of teams play in much weaker conferences??


The thinking is that if you can't win your conference (or division ;) )how can you be considered the best in the country. If you are not going to employ a playoff system, this line of thinking makes a heck of a lot sense to me.

KitchenSink
06-21-02, 05:02 PM
Bingo. If you are second or third in your conference, that should be to some extent detrimental to your national standing.

das Monkey
06-21-02, 08:52 PM
Originally posted by Red Dog
The thinking is that if you can't win your conference (or division ;) )how can you be considered the best in the country. If you are not going to employ a playoff system, this line of thinking makes a heck of a lot sense to me.

Me too. I've always argued for systems like that. People bitch that you can't have a X team playoff, because no matter how many spots X represents, teams will fight over that last spot. I say, who cares? If you're fighting over the last spot, you don't belong there anyway. The only way a 4 team playoff doesn't work is if there are 5 undefeated teams at the end of the season, and has that ever happened. If you're not undefeated, you can't claim to be the best. You may end up in that position when all the games are finished, but you have no gripe. People really hate that line of thinking, because of all the money involved, but it sure as hell would help parity in the sport. If winning your conference got you national recognition and a phat paycheck, it would start to balance the scales.

das