Your Hub for All Things Football

I’ve added a new section to the web site – Morgan Wick Sports – that will serve as a home base for the Lineal Titles, the SuperPower Rankings, and the College Football Rankings. This week’s SuperPower Rankings are now available there. Go to

The NFL lineal title history is now located there as well, and the ATH Drinking Game is now here.

Da Blog in LA Recap (what prodigious output!)

For the most part, my week in LA consisted of little more than hanging out around my dad’s house. I had some enlightening conversations with him about heavy topics and briefly caught up with some family, but not much happened.

Some catchup from the week that was:

  • NFL Lineal Title news: Carolina picked up the core Lineal Title off the Rams. They face Houston next week. The Colts will be defending against the Titans next week. If Houston and the Colts win unification would come Week 3. Atlanta and New Orleans are rooting for Carolina and Tennessee to win respectively.
  • After a week of no CFB lineal changes we get changes galore this week. Florida held on to the Princeton title against Troy, while LSU demolished Virginia Tech to retain the 2004 Auburn title. But Boise State falls to Washington while BYU loses to UCLA, making unification between the 2006 Boise State and 2004 Utah titles likely. UCLA plays Utah next while Washington plays Ohio State; the latter has a very high risk of averting unification. Unification is certain, however, if both teams retain.
  • SuperPower Rankings will start being hosted on the web site tommorow. They are currently delayed; Sporting News is joining the race but SI appears to be dropping out and if USA Today has any power rankings ongoing they don’t have this week’s up yet. My Week 2 picks are partly dependent on the SuperPower Rankings and are similarly delayed.
  • The voting-method-for-100-greatest-movies poll received no votes whatsoever in almost two months. I’m ashamed of you.

The web site picks’ mock fantasy football league

(We’re still working on the title.)

The idea is simple: simulate a fantasy football season based on the draft boards of many of the leading sports sites. I don’t know if you trust the same sites that give you the stats and scores to give you the best picks in fantasy, but we’ll do this anyway. I’ll hold a draft involving the boards for the following sites.

During the season, we’ll use standard scoring and rosters but use total points, not H2H. All picks will be based on the best available player on each service’s draft board until late in the draft, when any positional deficiecies will be taken care of in the following order: RB, QB, WR, TE, DEF, K. After each week, any player not in the top 200 overall, and also not in the top for their position (16 for kickers, 24 for defenses, TEs, and QBs, 40 for WRs, 50 for RBs), will be autocut and new selections will be made to replace them; worst team gets the free agent with the most points, unless they need to make up positional deficiencies for any reason next week, or unless their rankings are dynamically updated. For the first week, starters are determined based on the draft board, and thereafter by most points among contending players on a team, unless rankings are dynamically updated.

Teams are listed by first-round draft order and with their first round picks, Week 1 starters in bold:

  1. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
  2. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
  3. CBS Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks
  4. Fox Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs
  5. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
  6. Yahoo: Joseph Addai, RB, Colts
  7. USA Today: Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals (ends a streak of four straight picks ranked 3rd or 4th on their respective boards)
  8. Sporting News: Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles

Here’s the rest of the draft:

  1. SN: Willie Parker, RB, Steelers
  2. USAT: Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
  3. YAH: Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots
  4. SI: Travis Henry, RB, Broncos
  5. FOX: Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens
  6. CBS: Reggie Bush, RB, Saints
  7. ESPN: Steve Smith, WR, Panthers (ooh, slow start…)
  8. NFL: Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins
  9. NFL: Drew Brees, QB, Saints (huh? why not Palmer?)
  10. ESPN: Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts (but what about a QB?)
  11. CBS: Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals
  12. FOX: Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys (where to start…)
  13. SI: Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals (talk about controversy)
  14. YAH: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars (ditto)
  15. USAT: Torry Holt, WR, Rams (both ESPN and USAT have not selected second RBs, worrying me)
  16. SN: Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins (another RB controversy)
  17. SN: Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals (note: no QB selected yet)
  18. USAT: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
  19. YAH: Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants (four! four RBs selected already!)
  20. SI: Thomas Jones, RB, Jets (ditto)
  21. FOX: Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts (still no QB selected, like YAH and SI)
  22. CBS: Cedric Benson, RB, Bears
  23. ESPN: Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints (finally select a second RB but still no QB)
  24. NFL: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills
  25. NFL: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots (I smell QB controversy; 26th on its board, and next would be #32 Ahman Green)
  26. ESPN: Carnell Williams, RB, Buccaneers (NFL robbed ESPN of Brady for no reason)
  27. CBS: Roy Williams, WR, Lions (first WR picked by CBS in this draft)
  28. FOX: Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers (Fox has him ranked 26th! It is the fifth round, but shouldn’t they at least take a QB first?)
  29. SI: Randy Moss, WR, Patriots (finally ending the RB streak, but where’s the QB?)
  30. YAH: TJ Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals (ditto)
  31. USAT: Marion Barber III, RB, Cowboys (last team to take a second RB)
  32. SN: Javon Walker, WR, Broncos
  33. SN: Donald Driver, WR, Packers (when will they take a QB?)
  34. USAT: Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants (third WR taken, suggesting a WR-centric strategy)
  35. YAH: Marques Colston, WR, Saints (still need a QB)
  36. SI: Andre Johnson, WR, Texans (ditto, and Bulger is next on SI board… where will he go after 5 1/2?)
  37. FOX: Ahman Green, RB, Texans (also still need a QB)
  38. CBS: Marc Bulger, QB, Rams (as with NFL, a QB controversy)
  39. ESPN: Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns (ranked ahead of Bulger on ESPN board)
  40. NFL: Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals (last team to take a WR, after 3 RBs and 2 QBs)
  41. NFL: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
  42. ESPN: Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings (ahead of Peterson on ESPN board)
  43. CBS: Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (ESPN rules allow a max 4 QBs, so CBS can only take one more!)
  44. FOX: Julius Jones, RB, Cowboys (thru 7 rounds, Fox has 4 RBs, 2 WRs, and a TE, but is one of five with no QBs when CBS has three! There should be only two no-QB teams! I need to add a trade rule)
  45. SI: Lee Evans, WR, Bills (three straight WRs after four straight RBs)
  46. YAH: Jerious Norwood, RB, Cardinals (five! five RBs in just seven rounds!)
  47. USAT: Kellen Winslow II, TE, Browns (USAT has had a very balanced draft, with a third WR instead of RB the only shortcoming, including being one of only three with a QB)
  48. SN: Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs
  49. SN: Darrell Jackson, WR, 49ers (Through 8: 3 RB, 4 WR, 1 TE. Shortcomings: QB, DEF, K.)
  50. USAT: Jeremy Shockey, TE, Giants (Through 8: 2 RB, 1 QB, 3 WR, 2 TE. Shortcomings: DEF, K.)
  51. YAH: Hines Ward, WR, Steelers (Through 8: 5 RB, 3 WR. Shortcomings: QB, TE, DEF, K.)
  52. SI: Lavernaues Coles, WR, Jets (Through 8: 4 RB, 4 WR. Shortcomings: QB, TE, DEF, K. Very streaky with streaks of 4 straight RBs and WRs.)
  53. FOX: Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers (Through 8: 5 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE. Shortcomings: QB, DEF, K.)
  54. CBS: Jon Kitna, QB, Lions (Through 8: 4 QB, 3 RB, 1 WR. Shortcomings: WR, TE, DEF, K. That’s it, CBS can’t take any more QBs. Now there should only be one QB-less team.)
  55. ESPN: Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks (ESPN should have picked up a QB a long time ago, but now at least half the teams have QBs. Through 8: 1 QB, 5 RB, 2 WR. Shortcomings: TE, DEF, K. After three rounds with only one RB, ESPN went on a four straight RB tear.)
  56. NFL: Tatum Bell, RB, Lions (Through 8: 2 QB, 5 RB, 1 WR. Shortcomings: WR, TE, DEF, K.)

  1. NFL: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers (to think I thought the 8 RB limit wouldn’t be a factor!)
  2. ESPN: Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins (ditto)
  3. CBS: Reggie Brown, WR, Eagles (both Vince Young and Philip Rivers are ranked ahead of him, making this the first intervention; can they not be far on the other lists? Corrects WR shortcoming.)
  4. FOX: Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks
  5. SI: Santana Moss, WR, Redskins
  6. YAH: Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
  7. USAT: Todd Heap, TE, Ravens (After following very good strategy for most of the first half, USAT falls apart with three straight TEs. That’s the maximum.)
  8. SN: Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins
  9. SN: Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns
  10. USAT: DeShawn Foster, RB, Panthers
  11. YAH: Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars
  12. SI: Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys (Corrects QB shortcoming. But this seems a little risky, even if he is next on CBS after Young and Rivers.)
  13. FOX: Terry Glenn, WR, Cowboys
  14. CBS: Mark Clayton, WR, Ravens
  15. ESPN: Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers
  16. NFL: Vince Young, QB, Titans
  17. NFL: Phillp Rivers, QB, Chargers ( takes both QBs passed up by CBS and hits the four-QB limit itself)
  18. ESPN: Alge Crumpler, TE, Falcons (Corrects TE shortcoming.)
  19. CBS: Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers
  20. FOX: Bears Defense (69th on FOX board. First D off the board in 11th round.)
  21. SI: Lamont Jordan, RB, Raiders
  22. YAH: Warrick Dunn, RB, Falcons (7th RB taken by YAH)
  23. USAT: Eli Manning, QB, Giants (Enforced pass-up of Redskins TE Chris Cooley. Second QB taken by USAT when four teams still go without.)
  24. SN: Donte Stallworth, WR, Patriots (7th WR taken by SN and 4th straight.)
  25. SN: Bernard Berrian, WR, Bears (SN becomes first team to hit 8 WR limit with its 5th straight WR. Shortcomings: QB, DEF, K. May have to start enforced position selection Round 14.)
  26. USAT: Brett Favre, QB, Packers (Enforced pass-up of L.J. Smith and Randy McMichael. What is Favre doing here in the 12th round? 3rd USAT QB. Shortcomings: DEF, K. Potential EPS starting Round 15.)
  27. YAH: Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins (Takes care of TE need. Shortcomings: QB, DEF, K. Potential EPS starting Round 14.)
  28. SI: LenDale White, RB, Titans (6 RB, 5 WR, 1 QB. Shortcomings: TE, DEF, K. Potential EPS starting Round 14.)
  29. FOX: Kevin Jones, RB, Lions (Shortcomings: QB, K. Potential EPS starting Round 15.)
  30. CBS: Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets (Shortcomings: TE, DEF, K. Potential EPS starting Round 14.)
  31. ESPN: Joe Horn, WR, Falcons (Shortcomings: DEF, K. Potential EPS starting Round 15.)
  32. NFL: Ravens Defense (Enforced pass-up of Matt Leinart. This is everything that’s right about caps because this actually takes care of a need. Shortcomings: WR, TE, K. Potential EPS starting Round 14.)

  1. NFL: Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers (Corrects TE shortcoming, delays EPS to Round 15.)
  2. ESPN: Isaac Bruce, WR, Rams
  3. CBS: Benjamin Watson, TE, Patriots (Also passes up Matt Leinart, but delays EPS to Round 15.)
  4. FOX: Patriots Defense (How greedy to take a second defense you’ll practically never use when you really need a QB!)
  5. SI: Matt Leinart, QB, Cardinals (Will engage in EPS Round 14.)
  6. YAH: Kevin Curtis, WR, Eagles (Will engage in EPS Round 14.)
  7. USAT: Devery Henderson, WR, Saints
  8. SN: Vernand Morency, RB, Packers
  9. SN: Ben Roethlsiberger, QB, Steelers (Forced selection due to positional deficiency.)
  10. USAT: Adam Vinatieri, K, Patriots (USAT has him 91st on its board! This is only an 8-team draft and it’s still only the 14th round of 16! But that means the only EPS would be DEF in Round 16 if one isn’t taken in the 15th.)
  11. YAH: Jay Cutler, QB, Broncos (Forced selection due to positional deficiency.)
  12. SI: Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys (Forced selection due to positional deficiency.)
  13. FOX: Chargers Defense (WTF? That’s the third defense, that’s the limit! Now we have to wait for the 15th for an EPS QB!
  14. CBS: Leon Washington, RB, Jets (Will engage in EPS Round 15.)
  15. ESPN: L.J. Smith, TE, Eagles (Will engage in EPS Round 15.)
  16. NFL: Chris Brown, RB, Titans
  17. NFL: D.J. Hackett, WR, Seahawks (EPS kicked in just in time, because the next player available on the board, Ben Roethlisberger, had enforced pass-up on him, and was 100th out of 100.)
  18. ESPN: Jaguars Defense (Forced selection due to positional deficiency.)
  19. CBS: Steelers Defense (Forced selection due to positional deficiency.)
  20. FOX: Alex Smith, QB, 49ers (Forced selection due to positional deficiency.)
  21. SI: Broncos Defense (Forced selection due to positional deficiency.)
  22. YAH: Dolphins Defense (Forced selection due to positional deficiency.)
  23. USAT: JP Losman, QB, Bills
  24. SN: Panthers Defense (Forced selection due to positional deficiency. Amazingly, this is the first 15th round defense to be ranked behind another 15th round defense.)
  25. SN: Nate Kaeding, K, Chargers (All Round 16 selections are forced.)
  26. USAT: Cowboys Defense
  27. YAH: Jeff Wilkins, K, Rams (Ranked ahead of Kaeding.)
  28. SI: Robbie Gould, K, Bears
  29. FOX: Matt Stover, K, Ravens (Ranked ahead of Gould.)
  30. CBS: Jason Elam, K, Broncos (Placed third among kickers behind Wilkins and Vinaitieri.)
  31. ESPN: Shayne Graham, K, Bengals (Ditto.)
  32. NFL: Neil Rackers, K, Cardinals (Ranked ahead of Stover, Elam, and Graham. “Mr. Irrelavent” himself.)

Da Blog in LA

Tomorrow, I’ll be flying to Los Angeles for a week and a half with my dad. I hope to post regular blog posts about my experience there under the label “Da Blog in LA”. I’ll probably be bored out of my skull there, but what the hey.

Meanwhile, if you want my NFL picks every week, they should be available here every early Tuesday morning. Please keep in mind at all times that I know nothing about football.

All the college football lineal titleholders have retained so far, with only BYU still playing.

NFL Preseason SuperPower Rankings

In the same vein as my 100 Greatest Movies Project, here’s my NFL Power Rankings based on the Power Rankings of most of the leading sports sites. I include ratings from the following sports sites: ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, USA Today. I’m willing to take in NBC Sports, Yahoo, and Sporting News if they choose to take part in this excersize. One point per rank; #1=1, #2=2, so on. Lower scores score higher. The asterisk indicates a Lineal Title holder.

Note: The Fox Sports rankings occured at the start of this month; the others, right after the draft. Among other things, it explains why they rank the Falcons near the bottom when the others put them in the middle of the pack.

Team Name TW (LW) ESPN CBS Fox USAT Comments
Patriots 1-T 1 2 2 2 1 Should be a lot scarier with Randy Moss.
Colts 1-T 2 1 1 1 3 Don’t sleep on SB champs, or overstate impact of losses.
Chargers 3 3 3 3 3 2 Maybe the most talented team in the NFL.
Saints 4 6 7 4 4 4 One of the NFC’s best teams only improved. The D is still an issue.
Ravens 5 4 6 5 7 5 Expect McGahee to be an immediate help on offense.
Bears 6 5 5 7 5 6 A lot of question marks but the SB defense is still there.
Broncos 7 7 4 6 6 7 Made some impact additions in offseason. Will Cutler be enough?
Eagles 8 8 8 12 8 9 If McNabb’s healthy, they could be a powerhouse.
Seahawks 9 11 15 8 9 10 They need a healthy Alexander to remain top dog in a tougher division.
Bengals 10 10 10 9 17 8 Bengals underperformed last year, but D still an issue.
Cowboys 11 9 9 13 14 11 The good news is they dumped Parcells. The bad news is they dumped Parcells. All eyes on Romo.
Jets 12 12 16 10 11 12 Revis, Harris, Jones are impact additions, but still not enough D.
Steelers 13 13 11 15 12 13 Will Tomlin get the ’05 Steelers or the ’06 Steelers?
Jaguars 14 14 12 11 18 14.5 All eyes are on the QB position after a mediocre ’06.
*Rams 15 18 17 18 10 18 The Rams made sure to get better in the offseason. Will it be enough?
Panthers 16 16 21 16 16 14.5 Good draft, not much else. All eyes on Delhomme with Carr looking over shoulder.
49ers 17 15 19 14 22 16.5 With improving young players, could contend in West and win in ’08.
Giants 18 17 14 19 21 20 All eyes on Manning and Brandon Jacobs.
Falcons 19 19 18 30 20 16.5 Will probably stink without Vick, but they still have strong pieces.
Titans 20 21 29 22 15 19 Young will have a lot of weight on his shoulders without more offensive help.
Cardinals 21 22 13 20 30 22 “No, this really is the Cardinals’ year, really!”
Chiefs 22-T 20 26 17 26 21 The QB question still looms, especially with good but not SB-carrying D.
Bills 22-T 23 20 21 23 23 Went with youth by dumping vets and hoping Losman improves.
Vikings 24 25 23 29 31 25.5 Good defense and Peterson is good RB, but weak WRs and is Jackson ready?
Packers 25 24 22 23 25 24 Favre may be getting an absolutely awful offense. Retire already!
Dolphins 26 26 24 27 19 28 Will Green provide the pick-me-up the team needs?
Lions 27 30 27 26 13 29 The WRs are meeting their potential and Kitna can carry the team, so they could surprise.
Buccaneers 28 27 25 24 29 25.5 A boatload of QBs with other questions going ignored.
Redskins 29 28 28 25 24 27 Campbell must perform or Gibbs could be running back to NASCAR.
Texans 30 29 30 28 27 31 Schaub and Green will help but the OL is still nonexistent.
Raiders 31 32 31 31 28 32 D is good, but even with Russell they were likely to struggle.
Browns 32 31 32 32 32 30 Young team with two top draft picks that could be a big contender… in ’08.

Some sports musings

Couple of things:

*I’m seeing an international pool-play game in the Little League World Series on ESPN while Major League Baseball, a game between two playoff contenders, is on ESPN2. Please don’t tell me the former outdraws the latter.

*The NFL Network is going to put its “Total Access” program on “My Network TV” Saturday nights starting in September. Which means it will now be on a “network” that as many people watch as the NFL Network reaches.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Preseason

(In case you haven’t noticed, it’s the dog days of summer. Normally, I would hold off on this until closer to the actual start of the season, but college football is still several weeks away from being useful, if I were to do TV ratings reports I would want to hold off on them until mid-September, and no one’s voting on any of my polls. Basically, there’s nothing to do, but I haven’t had any hits all day, so…)

NBC’s Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the season, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

Last year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. CBS and Fox were able to protect one game every week each but had to leave one week each unprotected and had to submit their protections after only four weeks.

Now, NBC lists the game it “tentatively” schedules for each night, and by all appearances, CBS and Fox can’t protect anything. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site:

  • Begins Sunday of Week 11
  • In effect during Weeks 11-17
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in “flex” weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.

Throughout the season, I’m going to make predictions on what the NFL will do each week in the flexible scheduling scheme. Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games:

Week 11 (November 18): Chicago @ Seattle
Week 12 (November 25): Philadelphia @ New England
Week 13 (December 2): Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Week 14 (December 9): Indianapolis @ Baltimore
Week 15 (December 16): Washington @ NY Giants
Week 16 (December 23): Tampa Bay @ San Francisco
Week 17 (December 30): Kansas City @ NY Jets

I will start putting up watches every week starting after Week 3 or 4. The Week 17 spot will double as a playoff watch. I will be paying close attention to what you think; I could extend the playoff watch concept to other pro sports if you do.

Introducing… The Football Lineal Title

On Friday night/Saturday morning, I gave you my college football rating system, which aims to bring some mathematical clarity to the world of college football. Well, now I have another idea, and I’m taking the “new method of determining champions” off the feature poll.

The idea is simple: The College Football Lineal Title. To pick up the title, beat the current title holder. To lose the title, lose a game; the team that beat you becomes the new titleholder. It’s a similar concept to that which exists for boxing and other combat sports.

It’s a very intuitive concept that applies well to college football, so much so that although I came up with the idea independently, I’m not the first to do so. David Wilson’s site links to two sites with the same idea: and

I have elected to start the title with the famed “first college football game” between Rutgers and Princeton. Because Princeton, after winning the rematch of that 1869 game, went undefeated through 1876, I call this lineage “the Princeton Title” as a slang name. This is the same starting point used by

I’ve done research on the subsequent history of the title using the scores of James Howell, sorted by date by Wilson here. Because I do not restrict who can hold the title, my records may be incomplete, because Howell’s scores only include games involving Division I-A or equivalent.

I have made two modifications to the basic concept:

  • Due to the regional nature of college football’s early years, before the proliferation of the bowls, many of the best teams never got a shot at the Princeton title, which didn’t leave the Northeast until 1918. Michigan had a long undefeated streak at the beginning of the twentieth century but never got a crack at the Princeton title. I have decided to recognize a “Michigan title” during this streak that starts changing hands when the University of Chicago broke the streak in 1905. From 1908 on, every team that goes undefeated gets their own lineal title if they do not already hold one.
  • During the early 1910s, there are three main titles with, in my opinion, a claim to national status: the Princeton title; the aforementioned Michigan title, merged with the Princeton title in 1916; and a title I call the Lafayette-Navy-Pitt title, aka the Pop Warner Memorial Title, starting with Lafayette’s undefeated season of 1909, and marked by a long reign by Warner’s Pitt team from 1915 to 1918. The LNP title ended when Pitt lost to a WWI-created Cleveland Naval Reserves team. I give recognition to these titles due to the large number of other titles that ultimately merged with them.
  • There are also three titles with claims to national status in the 1920’s and 30’s: the Princeton title; a title I call the Knute Rockne title, created from the merger of the 1918 Virginia Tech title (aka Virginia Tech-Lafayette-Pitt) and the 1917 Texas A&M title (aka Texas A&M-Vanderbilt), and so called because Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame teams won this title more often than the single time they won the Princeton title, and because the 1919 Notre Dame title, Rockne’s first undefeated team as coach, had its lineage become part of it; and the Rose Bowl title, aka the 1916 Oregon title, so named because the first modern Rose Bowl was played with this title. The Knute Rockne and Rose Bowl titles merged in 1936, and the Knute Rockne title merged with the Princeton title on New Year’s Day 1939, when Knute Rockne holder Tennessee defeated Princeton holder Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Strangely, at both unifications the Princeton title was arguably the less prestigious title.
  • I’ve also extended the concept to the NFL, where the analogy doesn’t hold as well. Split titles are created when the title holder does not make the NFL Championship Game, and later the Super Bowl. By that defintion, the current title holder is the St. Louis Rams, not the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts do hold a separate Super Bowl XLI title.

The College Football Belt site starts its lineage with the 1971 Nebraska team, effective at the 1971-2 Orange Bowl; their later research shows that Nebraska did indeed come out of that season with the Princeton title (in fact Nebraska won the Princeton title off Alabama in that very Orange Bowl). The Belt site also considers starting with the first AP National Champions, the 1936 Minnesota team. However, although Minnesota came into the season coming off multiple unbeaten seasons and holding the Rose Bowl title, they did lose that season (their loss to Northwestern merged the Rose Bowl title with the Knute Rockne title), and not only did they never pick up another lineal title the rest of the year, the lineage the Belt site traces never overlaps with any similar title claim, right up to the point where they say it unified with the Princeton title, Halloween 1942, when Minnesota-holder Georgia picked up the lineal title off Alabama.

Research done by both sites shows that this year’s BCS National Championship Game had the Princeton title on the line, and Florida is the current Princeton title holder. Boise State also holds a new lineal title by going undefeated. My own research shows that the 2004 Utah undefeated team has their title in the hands of BYU, and the 2004 Auburn title is currently held by LSU. 2000 Oklahoma’s title was merged with Princeton in the 2003 Rose Bowl, after being merged with 1998 Tulane. I haven’t done research further back than that (I have done 1999 Marshall and 1998 Tennessee), partly because since the BCS started, 1998, 2000 (when Miami (FL) got snubbed) and 2003 (when USC got snubbed) are the ONLY years where the BCS Title Game was not for the Princeton Title. However, I strongly doubt any other split titles have remained split long enough to remain extant today.

One small step towards college football clarity…

No sport has a more contentious championship structure, in all the world, than American college football. We give control over the championship to a complicated structure called the “BCS” which combines the result of two subjective polls with a bunch of complicated computer ratings which no one knows how they work and wouldn’t be able to understand them anyway. This system eventually spits out two teams who are supposed to be “the best” and play each other, and we call the winner the champion.

It’s a lot better than the old system, where we just took a poll to determine the champion. USC-Texas in 2005-06 would never have happened under that system; USC would have played in the Rose Bowl and Texas in the Cotton or Fiesta bowls. Unfortunately, years like that are the exception and not the rule. When there are exactly two undefeated teams, the BCS’ job is easy. When there isn’t, controversy is basically unavoidable. Everyone thinks we should have a real playoff, but no one can get it done.

In the meantime, I have my own addition to the college football rating pantheon.

We can’t trust polls. Polls have short memories, are biased, are impressed by running up the score, are sentimental, and are often based on things other than what happens on the field. In the first few years of the BCS, people blamed computer polls for problems picking champions, in part because almost all computer poll formulae are proprietary. Often they shrugged off strength of schedule as though we should reward teams for playing a bunch of scrubs. Auburn’s inability to make the national title game in 2004-05, despite going undefeated, showed that polls can cause problems as well. A computer ranking can at least claim a modicum of objectivity by being based in fairly sound mathematical principles.

Of course, I don’t have enough grounding in mathematics to have a good grasp of sound mathematical principles, but I have read a number of resources. Many of them are here. Some articles on the thinking going into many of these systems are here. Soren Sorensen’s thinking on these matters, which has affected my own judgment, is here.

My rating is a three-part system that aims to unify and minimize the problem with various systems.

A Rating. This is a basic rating on a scale of 0 to 1. 0 means you’ve been shut out in all games, while 1 means you’ve been beaten in all games. When I was first formulating this I had the results effectively multiplied based on the team’s Coaches and AP Poll results. I would add 1/r (where r is the rank) times the A Rating. The result was a 0 to 3 scale. I dumped it due to increased disillusionment with the polls and the fact that a scrub team was actually helped in the B Rating by getting blown out by a team with an A Rating over 1.

The A Rating is calculated as a team’s winning percentage times a team’s modified average score ratio. According to Sorensen, a team’s score ratio in a given game is the margin of victory divided by the winning score. For the loser, score ratio is the negative margin of loss divided by the losing score. Since the score ratio for shutouts is always 1, and the score ratio for blowouts approaches 1, score ratio serves as a check to running up the score. (However, it also is somewhat biased towards defense. If you’re beating up your opponent 50-3 and your opponent kicks another field goal, you have to get to 100 points to make up the score ratio lost!)

For A Rating purposes, the average score ratio is modified to a 0-1 scale instead of a -1 to 1 scale. Under this system, ties would have score ratio of .5.

B Rating. B Rating is calculated by multipling a team’s A Rating by its total B Points. If the total B Points are negative, teams would be helped by lower A Ratings, so the A Rating is subtracted from 1 before multipling. Because having positive B Points results in a “purer” calculation, I give special recognition to all such teams on my report.

B Points are earned on a game-by-game basis and are supposed to be determined by the following game-by-game formula: MoV*AR+/-1

where MoV reflects the margin of victory or loss (negative for a loss), AR reflects the opponent’s A Rating (subtracted from 1 for a loss), and the +/- 1 factor is a home field modifier. It adds 1 to games played on the road and subtracts 1 from games played at home. For games played on a neutral site, B Points are simply MoV*AR. B Points are recalculated from scratch every week.

This uses “pure” MoV, but it still mitigates the effect of RUTS by multipling it by the A Rating. Who you have a given result against matters. I believe ratings should relate MoV to quality of teams beaten. If you beat up on a terrible team, the B Points you receive for it will be negligible. If you RUTS on a one-loss team with fantastic score ratio, just the fact you were able to run up the score on a terrific team says volumes about the quality of your team. (Most computer rankings, in their zeal to curb RUTS, will give most of this game’s impact to the quality of win.)

However, in practice, this is not the actual formula. I use Access 2003 to calculate the ratings and for some unknown reason, it highballs the ratings to a ridiculous extent. I have isolated the problem to the summation of the B Points, to prepare them for calculation in the B Rating. At this point, an unknown factor will cause the summation to be far higher than the individual games’ B Points would indicate. (It is related to the existence of multiple games, as the B Points sum correctly when there’s only one of them, but skyrocket immediately after a second game appears.) I would like to believe the results scale to what they should be but I am concerned about undervaluing the A Rating in calculating B Rating. As an example, consider the B Points earned by Ohio State in the 2006 season. I have manually sorted the results by date and rounded B Points to the hundredths place.

OSU def. Northern Illinois 35-12: 5.81 points
OSU def. Texas 24-7: 9.69 points
OSU def. Cincinatti 37-7: 9.44 points (Cincinnati had a rather strong season and Texas, while clearly better, wasn’t at championship form without Vince Young)
OSU def. Penn State 28-6: 8.37 points
OSU def. Iowa 38-17: 6.14 points
OSU def. Bowling Green 35-7: 2.46 points (the value of B Points in curbing RUTS against weak opposition should be obvious)
OSU def. Michigan State 38-7: 5.54 points
OSU def. Indiana 44-3: 5.48 points
OSU def. Minnesota 44-0: 9.33 points
OSU def. Illinois 17-10: 1.42 points (that’s what you get for keeping an absolutely atrocious team within a touchdown)
OSU def. Northwestern 54-10: 6.94 points
OSU def. Michigan 42-39: .86 points (yes, Michigan was undefeated at the time, but thumbs down to letting them get within a field goal at home – B Points are capped at MoV)
Florida def. Ohio State 41-14: -8.92 points (for destroying what was to that point the best team in the land, Florida received nearly 20 points for this game)

These B Points should add up to 62.57 points. But Access records OSU’s total B Points as 94162.35. (The final B Rating was 69160.71. After Week 3, OSU’s B Rating was 4237.39.) The only thing I tell Access to do in the query in question is sum up the B Points. For reference, OSU’s A Rating was .735, and their opponents received the following B Points for their OSU games: Northern Illinois -5.10, Texas -5.51, Cincinnati -6.95, Penn State -4.83, Iowa -6.57, Bowling Green -6.42, Michigan State -9.22, Indiana -9.87, Minnesota -10.66 (OSU shutting out Minnesota hurt the Gophers more than it helped the Buckeyes), Illinois -2.86, Northwestern -12.66, Michigan .20 (it is possible to earn positive B Points for losing, but it has to be on the road), Florida 19.84. If anyone can point out what I can do differently to get Access to calculate total B Points correctly, let me know. (My query that calculates individual game B Points has one field for the team itself, and to aid Access in association, two fields for the opponent, one of which is taken from the base list of Division I-A teams. I am willing to e-mail my Access file to anyone interested in tackling the problem. A link to my e-mail should be available from the profile link at right.)

C Rating. B Points do not take into account the unbalanced college football schedule. A team in a non-BCS conference can crush a bunch of scrubs and have its B Rating artificially inflated because the scrubs win more than they deserve by playing other scrubs in conference. This reduces the RUTS-mitigating effect of B Points. C Rating is a simple modification of B Rating that takes into account conference strength.

Each conference has a conference rating, which is simply the average of its component teams’ B Ratings. Independents are considered their own individual conferences, except Army and Navy, which are considered to comprise a “military” conference. (For clarification, the other two independents, Notre Dame and Western Kentucky, are their own one-team conferences, named after themselves.)

To calculate C Rating, take the difference between a team’s B Rating and its conference’s rating. Multiply that number by n/120, where n is the number of teams in conference. (The significance of 120 is that 120 is the total number of teams in Division I-A. Thus the fraction represents the portion of Division I-A that the conference takes up.) Drag the B Rating towards the conference rating by that amount. (If the B Rating is bigger, subtract. If the conference rating is bigger, add.)

Note that, to take my comment on the OSU-Minnesota game above, this serves as another curb on RUTS. RUTS too much in conference and you are liable to hurt the conference rating by punishing your opponent’s B Rating, and thus hurt your own C Rating.

All three of these algorithms have their faults. A Rating does not factor in SoS at all, B Points theoretically give some non-diminishing reward for RUTS, and the C Rating algorithm only makes sense as part of a larger system. But taken together, I believe they make a rather strong rating system that aims to crown a champion by C Rating at the end of the season. Last season, it crowned Louisville, with all the warts on the B Rating system, thanks to a woefully underrated Big East that had the highest conference rating. OSU had the best pure B Rating even after losing to Florida. Florida was third and Boise State fourth, separated by only ten points in the C Ratings – 51169.57 to 51159.34.

I won’t release my ratings for the 2007 season until Week 4, the soonest any team can be linked to any other team by connecting a series of games (Team A played Team B played Team C played Team D…). It’s a little arbitrary for my system compared to other systems for which this sort of thing matters, but let’s face it, the ratings are positively meaningless after Week 1 and only slowly coalesce into place. Last year the Week 3 ratings, which occurred after the cutoff point, were almost random, and the Week 4 ratings were more sensical but still a little wild near the bottom. Ratings will be posted on the Web site when they’re ready.