Some housekeeping notes, and a Week 17 playoff watch

The lineal titles are, belatedly, updated, and I think I’m somewhat lucky that none of the college titles are being defended until after the new year.

The Golden Bowl tournament, however, is probably not going to happen this year, and maybe ever. Somehow it has always managed to monopolize a lot of my time during every winter break, and the process of selection chews up a lot of time and brainpower just as the fall quarter at school starts ramping up towards finals. Perhaps once I’m finally out of school I’ll start it up again – heaven knows we’ll probably be no closer to a playoff then. I do want to say a few things about how the bracket would have shaken out:

The top six teams in the RPI are all from the SEC or Big 12, with attendant effects on selection, including Oklahoma probably getting a top-three seed, a possible third SEC at-large in Alabama, and all other conferences getting squeezed out of at-larges, including Stanford and Ohio State. Had I decided to cap at-larges at 2 per conference, they and Michigan State would have been key contenders.

Thanks in part to my Rose Bowl Semifinal rule, Oregon is hard-pressed to even get a first-round home game; the Pac-10 was weak this year. Wisconsin barely stood out among a field of Oregon, TCU, Boise, and V-Tech.

Finally, Connecticut actually barely got edged by UCF for the 13 seed, so the 3 would be a lot less valuable than the 2 this year, and the 4 substantially more valuable than the 5.

For the Playoff Pictures, anything that’s not self-explanatory is in the notes. Thick borders cannot be crossed, and I didn’t bother to research common-games tiebreakers for playoff positioning.

AFC Playoff Picture
11-4 511-5
NFC Playoff Picture

2010 College Football Rankings – Week 10

A #1 TCU-#2 Boise State national championship game?

That’s what the C Ratings seem to be suggesting. TCU was already #1; beating up on #13 Utah just means they’re building an insurmountable lead. But Boise State beat up on a good Hawaii team, while #3 Oregon beat up on a Washington team that will probably not deliver Jake Locker to a bowl.

The difference in strength of schedule means the C Ratings are vouching for the battle of non-BCS teams. We’ll probably get #5 Auburn-Oregon instead, of course, but TCU and Boise have proven their bona fides over the course of the season. Boise is still haunted by V-Tech’s loss to James Madison, but the loss coming to a I-AA school isn’t really affected in V-Tech’s ratings, let alone Boise’s, but that is a very tough nut to crack while continuing to use Access to calculate the ratings. Both TCU and Boise have beaten enough good teams to show they deserve a shot – and TCU, at least, looks likely to get one if one of the BCS unbeatens loses.

Does it help TCU’s case to see the most likely 1-loss team in the way, #10 Alabama, go down to #15 LSU? Not necessarily: now people are suggesting Auburn itself could go to the BCS Title Game with one loss. But if that happens, the wailing and gnashing of teeth could reach a whole new level. (And meanwhile, #4 Ohio State continues plugging along, hoping for a #17 Wisconsin loss…)

Other notes on this week’s C Ratings:

  • #6 Oklahoma State catapults up the ratings, benefitting from #9 Oklahoma’s loss and #8 Nebraska’s OT win to become the Big 12 leader, and likely South representative in the title game. A national championship trip seems a long shot, but like Ohio State, they are top ten in the BCS.
  • From what I understand, if Oregon plays in the BCS Title Game the Rose Bowl HAS to select TCU or Boise, not #7 Stanford. Someone else getting screwed by the BCS rules! The one year it’s not an Illinois… On the other hand, Stanford has a pretty good shot of going to my simulated Golden Bowl Playoffs as an at-large.
  • #11 Nevada is knocking on the door of the top 10. The six-point loss to Hawaii will keep them out of BCS bowl contention; take that away, and I would be arguing that if they beat Boise State, they should be considered at least as much in the national championship consideration as Boise was.
  • How the mighty have fallen! Losing to Nebraska was one thing, but losing to lowly Texas Tech? It wasn’t too long ago that #14 Missouri was in the thick of the national championship consideration, but now they’d need Nebraska to really collapse to get more than a trip to a mid-pack bowl. And if they want to get their season back on track, they need to do it against a K-State team ranked in the BCS (but not in positive B Points). Fortunately, they’re still unbeaten at home.
  • As I mentioned last week, all that matters to #25 South Carolina in terms of clinching the division is winning the Spurrier Bowl this week. #16 Arkansas, on the other hand, is mired in the SEC West where Auburn, Alabama, and LSU reign – but the loss to Alabama was very tight. With LSU at home still to come in the schedule, an LSU team that’s the top one-loss team in the BCS but only one spot ahead of the Hogs in the C Ratings because of the BCS’ no-MoV rule, look for Arkansas to potentially pull the upset there, establishing themselves as the third-best team in the West. Meanwhile, #22 Florida returns to the BCS and now outrates South Carolina in the C Ratings…
  • When it looks at the C Ratings, must #18 Iowa be cursing itself for its one-point loss to Wisconsin? You know Ohio State must be cursing it, because that was the best chance for a Wisconsin loss all year, aside from the actual loss to #20 Michigan State.
  • #19 Arizona takes a tumble after the Stanford loss, and #23 USC falls out of the top 20 for the first time all year.
  • #21 Navy is at one of the highest positions in the C Ratings I’ve ever seen from them. Give the credit to demolishing an East Carolina team that knows how to work the score ratio. Also note that two of their losses are to good teams and they beat Notre Dame pretty handily as well.
  • Other than #12 Virginia Tech, #24 NC State is the only other ACC team in the Top 25 – and NC State just lost to Clemson! Nonetheless, both teams control their own destiny to the ACC Title Game, since NC State beat Florida State and still has Maryland on the schedule. V-Tech cleared the first hurdle and now just needs to win two of the remaining three.
  • Once again, the Top 25 is deserted of Big East teams, though both Pitt and West Virginia are just barely on the outside looking in. Right behind them is Oregon State – what would it say about TCU and Boise if they were to enter the Top 25? Texas A&M’s upset of Oklahoma has them ranked in the BCS, but it’s not quite enough to crack the top 25 of the C Ratings.

Best game of week: San Diego State @ #1 TCU, 4pm ET, VS.
Complete C Ratings

2010 College Football Rankings – Week 9

Both lineal titles are updated… and with the fall of #18 Michigan State and #9 Missouri, the BCS Title picture has dramatically clarified.

There are exactly two BCS conference unbeaten teams, and much as #3 Boise State and #1 TCU, which expected to benefit from Alabama and Ohio State losses, don’t like it, if they win out they can punch their ticket to the national title game. Neither has a lineal title at the moment, though there is a very good chance Florida’s Princeton-Yale Title could find itself at stake in the SEC title game. (Florida is just barely outside the Top 25 this week.)

If #6 Auburn or #2 Oregon lose, that’s when all hell will break loose. Boise and TCU will claim they deserve to get in (assuming TCU gets past #8 Utah this week), but #10 Alabama, the Big 12 Title winner, and based on the C Ratings, #4 Ohio State will have very legitimate claims. We could be in for another BCS Mess.

Other thoughts on the new C Ratings:

  • Alabama, as far as most people are concerned, is consolidating their position as the best 1-loss team. How much of that is starting the season #1 in the country? As noted above, they’ll have a legit case if they win out and they will be a trap game for their rival, but they might be overrated at the moment. Ohio State continues to be ranked behind #23 Wisconsin in the BCS, restraining their ranking, as people continue to read too much into the outcome of one game (a road loss to a team that beat their best non-conference opponent, mediocre Arizona State, by one point at home). #11 Arizona continues to be underrated and behind #13 Stanford… but as Rece Davis pointed out on “BCS Countdown”, that could change in a hurry if they beat the other elite Pac-10 teams, starting with Stanford this week. If it weren’t for their already-lofty C Rating, I’d think that would lead to people overreacting to a few games. What motivation does #21 USC have the rest of the way.
  • Baylor-#12 Oklahoma State will be for at least a share of the Big 12 South lead. Yes, BAYLOR is your current Big 12 South leader. Meanwhile, Nebraska is at least as good as Oklahoma. The last year of the Big 12 as we knew it suddenly flip-flopped the roles of the divisions. (Baylor has a terrible SoS and neither Baylor nor Oklahoma State has played the Sooners, which could be an effective Big 12 South title game.)
  • ACC Madness: #14 Virginia Tech leads the Coastal by two games, unbeaten in conference while everyone else has two conference losses. V-Tech hasn’t played any of the two-loss teams yet, though, so two losses could take it all away; they play all three in a row starting with G-Tech Thursday night, but Miami (FL) at the end of the string is the only one in positive B Points. #20 NC State’s win over #22 Florida State earned them respect in the BCS Standings; the Atlantic is anyone’s guess between those two and Maryland, who hasn’t played either yet. Clemson, of all teams, is the only ACC team not already noted in positive B Points.
  • What are the chances the Princeton-Yale Title is on the line in the SEC Title game? Pretty good; #15 South Carolina is in the lead in the East in the standings, the BCS, and the C Ratings, and the Spurrier Bowl is the only game that matters to them in terms of clinching the division. Troy and Clemson afterwards are trap games, though, both on the first page. Florida has one more conference loss and so need to avoid a loss to Vanderbilt to make the Spurrier Bowl a true effective East title game; otherwise it lets Georgia and Vandy back in it if South Carolina loses to Arkansas and Florida. #16 LSU could sneak away with the SEC West if they upset ‘Bama and Auburn loses to both Georgia and ‘Bama; if that chain of events lands them in the national title game a LOT of people will throw fits.
  • #17 Iowa skyrocketed onto the top 25 with their win over Michigan State. I think they were in negative B Points last week. Fresno State could be a trap game for #19 Nevada. #24 Hawaii makes three WAC teams in the Top 25, which seems unprecedented, just in time for the big Boise State game (also for the Broncos’ lineal title). The WAC’s conference rating is better than the Mountain West and they have more Top 25 teams. Does Boise State actually deserve more benefit of the doubt for their conference this year than TCU? Can Nevada keep this up and keep the Mountain West a Big 3 post-realignment?
  • #25 Pitt once again populates the Top 25 with a Big East team. The BCS, on the other hand, is deserted of Big East teams, probably because of the Notre Dame loss. But the Big East has a lot of parity, and no team has more than two conference losses, so their task is far from over. But they’ve already beaten Syracuse, so they can take one loss to any team and still punch a ticket to the BCS. West Virginia is STILL not that far outside the Top 25.

Best game of week: TCU @ Utah, 3:30pm ET, CBS CS (do not get me started, even with a free preview!)
Complete C Ratings

College Football Rankings – Week 8

First, for the rest of the college football season expect the college football rankings on Monday and the SNF Flex Schedule Watch on Wednesday. Second, the lineal titles have been updated; turns out San Diego blew a chance to unify the NFL titles.

There’s a non-BCS team deserving of playing in the national championship game… but it’s not #6 Boise State.

#1 TCU is the beneficiary of #4 Oklahoma’s loss to #5 Missouri, becoming the first team all year to lead the C Ratings in two different weeks. TCU’s lead over Boise State is all the more impressive considering the Mountain West is still a worse conference top-to-bottom than the WAC. Expect Boise’s rating to improve once they play #20 Nevada and Hawaii later in the year, but for now, TCU’s beatdowns of Air Force and Baylor trump narrowly beating V-Tech – and TCU themselves still has #10 Utah to play.

Missouri didn’t benefit as much as you might think from beating Oklahoma, failing even to pass the team they beat, despite winning by 9; but it was at home and Oklahoma had by far the worst A Rating of last week’s top 5. #3 Oregon managed to pass them by crushing UCLA. Similarly, because the BCS computers don’t factor in margin of victory, #9 Auburn is your new BCS #1 but actually lost a spot in the C Ratings because the C Ratings noticed they only won by a touchdown on the road to a team outside the top 10. (#16 LSU was #6 in the BCS last week but #11 in the C Ratings.)

#2 Ohio State rounds out the top five despite holding a loss. It was to a good #21 Wisconsin team on the road; all their wins have been by double digits, including a 49-0 drubbing of a Purdue team still above .500 that sent them skyrocketing up the rankings.

Other remarks on the new C Ratings:

  • The winner of the Missouri-#7 Nebraska game will win the Big 12 North and might actually be favored in the Big 12 Title Game for the first time in a long time… and the last time ever.
  • Upon further review, #8 Michigan State was #10 last week and Nebraska #6 with attendant corrections to the rest of the standings, with the implication that North Carolina was in the top 25 last week as well.
  • #11 Alabama better spend the bye studying film of the Auburn-LSU game, because it’s because of that game that the Tide now outrank the Tigers, and Bama needs to be ready for the game coming out of the bye. It’ll be their biggest test before the Iron Bowl.
  • #18 Stanford beat Washington State by ten points but fell behind two other Pac-10 teams, in part because Wazzu sucks, in part because #12 Arizona drubbed Washington by 40 points. The Wildcats are only slowly gaining respect, but it won’t kick in for real until they play the other three best teams in the Pac-10 in November. #17 USC is still puttering around the middle of the rankings, and need a win over Oregon to be playing for anything at all.
  • It looks like the win over Alabama wasn’t a fluke and the loss to Kentucky was. Vanderbilt isn’t much, but the Gamecocks lead the SEC East and are heading for a chance to prove themselves in the SEC Title Game.
  • Time for ACC Madness! Does #14 Virginia Tech, who lost to James Madison, standing unbeaten in-conference say more about the Hokies or the ACC? #19 Florida State might turn out to be a little better, though, and might lead the ACC in the C Ratings if FCS games counted the way I’d like them to. Two more ACC teams, #22 NC State and #23 Miami (FL), populate the Top 25, and both are in the places you’d expect in the standings, though NC State is knotted up with Maryland, a team that’s not on the first page let alone positive B Points.
  • Baylor, Oklahoma, and #15 Oklahoma State are actually locked up in a tight one in the Big 12 South, so Oklahoma could have been set back quite a bit by the Missouri loss. Yes, BAYLOR is ahead of the other Texas schools, and they and TEXAS A&M are the only ones in positive B Points, though neither is on the top 25.
  • #21 Wisconsin can say “a win is a win” because they beat Iowa by only one point – though it helped that it was a road game. That pretty much firms up their claim to the Capitol One Bowl; people may continue to overreact to the Ohio State win, but it won’t be enough to give them a BCS at-large, and if Michigan State goes to the national title game I hope the Rose Bowl is smart enough to pick Ohio State.
  • Yes, #24 Navy makes the top 25, hardly unprecedented. They have had some discouraging games (losing to Maryland? Beating Wake Forest by one?) but the beatdown of Notre Dame helps make up for that. #25 Florida rounds out the top 25 for real this week. They get a chance to bring the Princeton-Yale Title back to the good teams this week in the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, the first of three games they need to win to win the SEC East, but which will basically lock it up for them if they do.
  • The Big East is West Virginia’s world and everyone else is paying the rent? Not so fast my friend! The Mountaineers’ loss to Syracuse not only deserts the Top 25 of Big East teams, but combined with Pitt’s stomping of Rutgers, leaves them only two spots ahead of their rival in the C Ratings, and behind the unbeaten-in-conference Panthers in the Big East standings. The ‘Cuse is getting a lot of buzz but they’re still a mediocre team; both of their losses were bad (and one was to inconsistent Washington) and they beat West Virginia by only five; their only other two FBS wins were to South Florida, a team around the same area in the ratings, and dead-last-in-the-C-Ratings Akron.

Complete C Ratings

2010 College Football Rankings – Weeks 3-7

Here are the insights gained after calculating the last five weeks of the College Football Rankings:

  • Wanna guess who was #1 after Week 3? It was a Pac-10 school, but it wasn’t high-scoring Oregon: it was Stanford. Alabama was #2, with Arizona #3, and Oregon all the way at #13 thanks to a weak schedule. Florida leapfrogged them all Week 4 by beating previously unbeaten Kentucky, and Oregon shot up to #6 after a relatively close win over Arizona State.
  • I didn’t like all the praise being heaped on to Boise before the season; it was like people wanted them to break into the BCS Title Game. And in the first rankings they’re #17. TCU, on the other hand, is #4, and moved to third behind Florida and Stanford the following week. Boise isn’t even the best team in their own conference after Week 3; that’s #11 Nevada. Beating Oregon State didn’t help them in the short term; they actually dropped to #22, behind Virginia Tech! Only in Week 5 did they climb ahead of Nevada to #15, and in week 6 they shot up to #5.
  • Looking at the Week 4 rankings, you’re probably thinking that, far from explaining many of this year’s upsets, if my rankings ruled there would actually be more of them; Florida was ranked ahead of Alabama, Stanford ahead of Oregon. That actually resulted in TCU shooting to #1 Week 5, followed by Alabama and Oregon, with Florida staying high at #4. Despite losing to Arizona earlier in the year, Iowa was at #5, followed by Oklahoma, Ohio State, Stanford, Nebraska, dropping-for-idle-hands Arizona, and Michigan. And the upsets predicted by the humans but not by me continued: Michigan State was #24 beating #11 on the road, South Carolina had been at #17 before beating Alabama.
  • Nebraska held the top spot after six weeks after a beatdown of previously-unbeaten Kansas State sent them shooting up the rankings. TCU, Ohio State, and Oregon rounded out the top five, with Oklahoma #6.
  • No one has led the rankings two weeks in a row. Oklahoma beating up on Iowa State explains why they’re now #1, but not in the BCS where margin of victory doesn’t matter. Did Texas handing Nebraska their first loss give the Sooners an SoS boost? The two major non-BCS schools, TCU and Boise State, file in at #2 and #3. 6-0 Missouri can boast of wins over first-page teams San Diego State, Texas A&M and Illinois, two of them by decent scores; #5 Oregon has beaten up on teams, but Stanford and Arizona State – an 11-point squeaker and a home win where they allowed as many points as they did against Arizona State – are their only first-page wins, and some of those wins (Tennessee, New Mexico) remain awful. Oklahoma should be on upset alert with the game in Columbia. Nebraska falls to 7th after the loss to Texas; Ohio State, unbeaten Auburn, and unbeaten Oklahoma State round out the top ten, with Michigan State at #11. (Don’t overreact to a loss!)
  • Next come unbeaten LSU, Stanford, unbeaten Utah, and Alabama to round out the top 15. Virginia Tech is 16th, and creeping back into the polls as well; non-bowl-eligible USC has been hovering around the middle of the rankings all year, and come in at #17 this week. South Carolina, Arizona, and Florida State round out the top 20, and NC State, Nevada, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Florida round out the Top 25 (of those five, only West Virginia and Wisconsin are ranked in the BCS). North Carolina, Mississippi State, Baylor, Iowa, Northwestern, Navy, Air Force, Michigan, and Oregon State make up the watch list (yes, Iowa is 15th in the BCS standings and 29th in the C Ratings – blame a pedestrian slate of opponents and a Penn State team now in the bottom half), with Arkansas, San Diego State, Clemson, Miami (FL), Troy, and UCF making up the rest of the positive B Point crowd.
  • The Big 12 appears to be the best conference, followed by the Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-10. Despite only one team in positive B Points the Big East is still ahead of the ACC. The WAC is surprisingly ahead of the Mountain West, which is the last year that’ll ever happen; in fact the Mountain West is only barely ahead of C-USA. The Sun Belt is actually ahead of the MAC. Kentucky is the lowest-ranked Princeton-Yale Titleholder I can think of in the time I’ve been tracking both, at #74 in the back half of FBS, with teams like UCLA and Toledo. Their opponent, Georgia, is at least 50th and can get on to the first page if they take the title.
  • Best game of week: #1 Oklahoma @ #4 Missouri, 8pm ET, ABC, for the 2006 Boise State title – and possible pole position on the road to the national championship game.

Week: 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Adventures in crazy lineal titles

Most of the time, the college football lineal titles don’t change hands the first few weeks as all the good teams play cupcakes. Someone forgot to tell the 2006 Boise State title.

It freakily ended the season in the hands of non-bowl-eligible Washington, so perhaps an early change is to be expected, but it has changed hands every single week this season. Hopefully now that it’s in the hands of big-boy Oklahoma it’ll stay in place the next several weeks, at least until the Red River Rivalry.

All lineal titles are now properly updated.

Belated remarks on BYU going independent in football

The biggest loser in the Not-So-Great Conference Shakeup of 2010 may be the Mountain West, who got screwed through no real fault of their own whatsoever.

Yay, the Pac-10 may singlehandedly destroy the Big 12! We could wind up with the Kansas schools or even more, and then the BCS would HAVE to let us in to the party! Oh wait, they called off the dogs – well, at least we got Boise State out of the deal, although now that’s a wash because the Pac-10 is adding Utah to complement Colorado and become the Pac-12. Oh well, at least it’s a wash…

…except BYU has just lost its biggest link to the Mountain West and wants to go independent in football and join the WAC in other sports! But wait, we’re adding Nevada and Fresno State to effectively destroy the WAC! But wait, BYU is STILL leaving, only they’re joining the West Coast Conference in other sports instead of the WAC! Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!!

(Incidentially, the one underplayed angle in all this is the surely-salivating-to-ESPN-execs-tongues prospect of regular BYU-Gonzaga games in the West Coast Conference. Though BYU is rarely if ever the best team in the Mountain West, it is one of the Mountain West’s stronger teams in basketball, and Gonzaga has to like the prospect of having a legitimate playing partner other than St. Mary’s.)

The Mountain West is left with 10 teams, one more than before, but only two BCS-caliber programs instead of the present three: TCU and Boise State. Nevada and Fresno State are good teams in football, by non-Boise WAC standards, but at best they’re on the level of an Air Force: they’ll sneak into the Top 25 sometimes, but they’ll rarely make true national headlines. (Air Force knocking off BYU being an exception.) That won’t help the Mountain West’s case for becoming a BCS conference or dissolving the system. In fact, BYU’s move by itself could make the system stronger than ever, especially if they get a BCS auto bid (which could be a smarter move than you might think precisely for that reason).

But why would BYU make the move? Notre Dame is under heavy pressure to join a conference at some point, so BYU is bucking the trend by leaving one. Of course they weren’t getting much help getting into the BCS by staying in the Mountain West. But the big thing BYU is banking on is its status as the Mormon university. They are banking on becoming the new Notre Dame, Notre Dame West, with every game getting national coverage and a truly national following. They want to leverage their BYU network and turn it into a national powerhouse. (It’s unlikely any football games would air on BYU TV, but the mtn. deal prevents even non-football sports from airing on BYU TV.)

The success of BYU’s declaration of independence depends heavily on whether or not BYU can put together a schedule at least as good as what they had in the Mountain West, and the outlook is staggering. If you’re going to set yourselves up to be the new Notre Dame or Notre Dame West, it makes sense to set up a rivalry with the real Notre Dame. Throw in Texas, Oregon State, and Utah, and that’s four games against teams in BCS conferences, with an eye for more. Good luck getting that in the Mountain West. And BYU has signed a deal with ESPN, which means the full ESPN hype machine will be in full effect and BYU games will regularly be on a platform with wider availability than Versus. All that’s left is recruiting.

If BYU can continue to recruit and play at the same level that they have been in the Mountain West, and regularly play in BCS games, independence will suddenly look like a viable prospect and Notre Dame can start saying “I told you so”. This could be the move that ultimately sets up the next great conference shakeup and finishes off the Big 12. The Pac-10 and Big 10 are too tightly-knit to lose any teams to independence, but they and the SEC may be the only reasonably invulnerable conferences, and even then Nebraska and Penn State have to consider the possibility (though the Big Ten Network revenues may be too much to resist).

(USC will definitely be tempted if probation and Lane Kiffin don’t prevent the program from maintaining its Carroll-era heights, especially compared to the rest of the Pac-10 – and if a team that lost its upperclassmen and can’t go to a bowl is still ranked in the polls and that ranking is warranted, I guarantee USC will win a national championship the first year off probation.)

If Texas decides the outlook is right, they could jump to independence in a heartbeat (just look at how much more money it makes in all sports than the next non-Big 10, non-SEC, non-Notre Dame school), with Oklahoma following (though the Big 12 could stay together after all if enough other teams follow suit). Other teams that were once both independent and powerhouses before the 90s shakeup – Florida State, Miami (FL) – could bolt as well, which is bad news for the ACC. With ten members, the ACC could stay alive, if not taken very seriously and looking like the new Big East (though Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Boston College, and a few others are good teams), but the Big 12 would be down to eight pissed-off members, who might start looking at other conferences or at independence themselves.

But that’s trying to predict the unpredictable. Right now the future involves the impending destruction of the WAC, which is down to six teams and couldn’t even field a conference if Hawaii leaves. If the WAC can keep Hawaii in the fold they will try to replenish their numbers, probably with potential playing partners for Louisiana Tech from Conference USA and possibly the Sun Belt, but if it can’t a lot depends on what the Mountain West decides to do next, and whether they want to go straight to a football championship game or wait for better options than the WAC’s castoffs (like the Kansas schools should BYU’s defection eventually cause the Big 12 to implode).

If they do decide to go for a championship game, they will and should take Utah State and New Mexico State (the former is already rumored to be Mountain West-bound). Both, along with MWC-bound Nevada, are among the WAC’s best teams in basketball (when all is said and done the Mountain West’s new lineup would have had five teams in the NCAA Tournament last year), New Mexico State brings New Mexico’s in-state rival in-house, and while Utah State’s potential playing partners are both gone it does re-establish the Mountain West’s foothold in the sizable Utah market. That leaves Idaho, San Jose State, and Louisiana Tech. LA Tech likely joins Conference USA; Idaho and San Jose State, two of the worst college football programs in the nation, may have no choice but to go to FCS or shutter their football programs entirely. Perhaps the Big Sky or Summit League will take Idaho (although most of the Summit’s schools don’t play football so if Idaho keeps the football program the Big Sky may be the only option). The Big West may be the only geographic and cultural fit for San Jose State, and most if not all of their schools don’t play football, so their football program may be screwed unless they or Idaho want to go to the Great West.

Then begins the process of keeping a close eye on how BYU does financially and athletically over the next decade, as the future of college football may lie in their hands.

A new set of college football rankings for us to play with!

That feeling is in the air… it’s college football time again, and with it comes the return of all-out obsessive coverage on Da Blog. Both lineal titles (college and NFL) have been belatedly updated, including the new 2009 Boise State title and Super Bowl XLIV title. (I’ll have a post on the new holder of 2006 Boise State coming soon.) Although my Da Blog Poll came out to two votes to keep the College Football Schedule to one to junk it, I’m getting rid of it anyway. I need all the free time I can get to work on other things, and along with the College Football Rankings, starting Week 3 I’ll be premiering a new college football concept that has a lot more reason to premiere at the point any two teams can be connected to one another through a series of games… and one that could prove to be a lot more time-consuming than the Schedule ever was.

I started thinking about this with regards to combat sports like boxing and MMA, which I may extend this concept to eventually. If any sport has a more confusing title situation than college football, it’s those two (and horse racing), with all the different weight classes, not to mention all the different sanctioning bodies in the former. But for all the confusion over who the champ is, how the champ is determined is fairly straightforward: to be the man, you have to beat the man. So long as the champion does not lose, that person will remain the champion. This is taken to the point where lists of rankings will actually separate out the champion from the ranked fighters. No matter how strong a record you may rack up, to be the man, you have to beat the man. The championship system in combat sports is predicated on the notion that the result of a single fight is representative of which fighter is better overall. The same principle should be in play for ranking fighters below the champion.

Now, in what other sport is this the case? I don’t just ask this rhetorical question because I already created the college football lineal title on the same notion. You regularly hear the argument that Team A is better than Team B because Team A beat Team B, even if it was by one point in overtime at home. In a sense, this is the philosophy behind the BCS Title Game, as well as, to a lesser extent, the Super Bowl. (In most other sports a series of games determines the champion, removing some of the uncertainty and ambiguity of a single game.) You take what you think is the top two teams, pit them against each other, and the winner is the champion, as well as considered “better”.  As I pointed out last year, 2005 USC may well have been as good as ESPN said they were when they infamously started comparing the Trojans to all the great teams of the past, but we take it as given that Texas was the better team, because they beat USC. And BCS arguments are regularly settled by comparing whether one of the teams under discussion beat the other.

So I’m introducing what I call the line-of-sight rankings, to bring if not objectivity, at least consistency to the criteria we already use to argue about college football. Every team is situated below all the teams it lost to and above all the teams it beat. Obviously, there will be contradictions in the rankings, and in those cases we’ll have to throw out some games. We’ll determine what games to throw out in this order:

  • If two or more different contradictions can be resolved by throwing out a single game, throw out that game. Throw out the game that resolves the most contradictions, except that if a game is the most recent game for at least one team, it is considered to resolve one fewer contradiction than it actually does.
  • Otherwise, always eliminate home-team victories before neutral-site games, and neutral-site games before road-team victories.
  • Among games of similar siting, for every full 10 points of the margin of victory, add one to the week number. Then eliminate the game with the lowest week number, but do not eliminate a team’s most recent game. In event of a tie, eliminate the game with the smaller margin of victory. If there is still a tie, add the total number of losses for the winning team to the total number of wins by the losing team, and eliminate the game where that number is higher. If there is still a tie, remove the prohibition on eliminating a team’s most recent game, and if that does not help, subtract the losing team’s C Rating from the winning team’s C Rating, and eliminate the game where that number is lower.

Because every team doesn’t play every other team in college football, there will still be ambiguity in the rankings. If a team’s worst relevant loss is to the #5 team, and their best relevant win is to the #10 team, where between those two numbers is the team itself ranked? I settle these situations as follows:

  • If there is a “pod” of only one team as described above, including undefeated teams, rank the team directly ahead of the best team beaten in a relevant win. Winless teams are ranked directly behind their worst relevant loss. The team in question will have the rank of their worst relevant loss in parenthesis or, if undefeated in relevant games but not #1, have their entry boldfaced.
  • If there are two or more “pods” of multiple teams each that can be ranked a certain way between any two teams (or at the top or bottom of the rankings), or if there are two individual teams that can be ranked between another two teams but whose ranking vis-a-vis one another is unclear, break them up and rank them separately, within their own pods. Each team’s rank is listed as their best possible ranking except at the top of the rankings, when it is their worst possible ranking. In the case of the individual teams, they are listed as tied and in C Rating order unless one has a lineal title.

I’ll whip out the first rankings Week 3, when they become meaningful, and we’ll see how they play themselves out over the course of the season, and how much work they add to my already heavy workload.

College Football Schedule – Week 10

I set a hard deadline of today for the schedule because of the large quantity of games today. Once again, this will make the rankings obvious. I have no idea why I went back to the incredible irritatingness of WordPress table handling, except I couldn’t think of anything else. All times Eastern.

Central Florida @ #1 Texas Noon FSN Bill Land, Gary Reasons, Emily Jones
Vanderbilt @ #2 Florida* 7 PM ESPN2 Mark Jones, Bob Davie
Connecticut @ #3 Cincinnati 8 PM ABC Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters
#4 TCU @ San Diego State 4 PM VS. Tim Neverett, Glenn Parker, Lindsay Soto
#14 LSU @ #5 Alabama 3:30 CBS Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson
#6 Oregon* @ Stanford 3:30 FSN Barry Tompkins, Petros Papadakis, Rebecca Haarlow
#7 Boise State @ Louisiana Tech 8 PM FR ESPN2 Dave Lamont, Rod Gilmore
#11 Ohio State @ #8 Penn State 3:30 ABC/ESPN2
HD ABC only
Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, Holly Rowe
Northwestern @ #9 Iowa Noon ESPN Dave Pasch, Bob Griese, Chris Spielman
Syracuse @ #10 Pittsburgh Noon ESPNU Clay Matvick, David Diaz-Infante
#12 Virginia Tech @ East Carolina 7:30 TH ESPN Rece Davis, Mark May, Lou Holtz, Todd Harris
#13 Oklahoma @ #18 Nebraska 8 PM ABC Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham
Wake Forest @ #15 Georgia Tech 3:30 ABC/ESPN2 Pam Ward, Ray Bentley
Florida State @ #16 Clemson 7:30 ESPN Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Erin Andrews
#19 USC @ Arizona State 8 PM ABC Mike Patrick, Craig James, Heather Cox
Navy @ #20 Notre Dame 2:30 NBC Tom Hammond, Pat Haden, Alex Flanagan
New Mexico @ #21 Utah 6 PM mtn. Dan Gutowsky, Blaine Fowler, Sammy Linebaugh
Washington State @ #22 Arizona 3:30 FCS Dave Sitton, John Fina, Glenn Howell
Memphis @ #23 Tennessee 7 PM ESPNU Eric Collins, Brock Huard
Louisville @ #24 West Virginia Noon B.E. Net Mike Gleason, John Congemi, Quint Kessenich
Virginia @ #25 Miami (FL) Noon Raycom Steve Martin, Rick Walker, Mike Hogewood
Oklahoma State @ Iowa State 3:30 ABC Bob Wischusen, Brian Griese
Army @ Air Force 3:30 CBS CS Dave Ryan, Jason Sehorn
Fresno State @ Idaho 7 PT ESPNU Charlie Neal, JC Pearson
Miami (OH) @ Temple 7:30 TH
Houston @ Tulsa 7:30 CBS CS Tom Hart, Aaron Taylor
Eastern Michigan @ Northern Illinois 7:30 TH ESPNU Charlie Neal, Jay Walker
Bowling Green 30-29 Buffalo 7 PM TU ESPN2
Wisconsin @ Indiana Noon BTN Craig Coshun, Glen Mason, Mike Hall
Illinois @ Minnesota Noon BTN Matt Rosen, Ron Johnson, Ron Johnson
Western Michigan @ Michigan State Noon BTN Ari Wolfe, Rod Woodson, Kenny Jackson
Purdue @ Michigan Noon BTN Wayne Larrivee, Chris Martin, Charissa Thompson
South Carolina @ Arkansas Noon SEC Net Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Cara Capuano
Kansas @ Kansas State 12:30 VS. Ron Thulin, Kelly Stouffer, Lewis Johnson
Duke @ North Carolina 3:30 ESPNU Todd Harris, Charles Arbuckle
Oregon State @ California 7 PM FSN Steve Physioc, Mike Pawlawski, Drea Avent
Northern Arizona @ Mississippi 7:30 CSS/CN/CST Bob Rathun, Dave Archer, Jenn Hildreth
Utah State @ Hawaii 7 PT PPV Jim Leahey, Russell Yamaoha
Nevada @ San Jose State 8:30 SU ESPN Terry Gannon, David Norrie
Tennessee Tech @ Georgia 1 PM Gameplan Matt Stewart, Buck Belue, Sandra Golden
Eastern Kentucky @ Kentucky 1 PM WKYT Rob Bromley, Tim Couch, Dick Gabriel
Furman @ Auburn 1:30 Gameplan Andy Burcham, Cole Cubelic, Melissa Lee
BIG 12
Texas A&M @ Colorado 1:30 FCS Dan McLaughlin, Yogi Roth, Samantha Steele
Baylor @ Missouri 2 PM
Maryland @ NC State 1 PM ESPN360 Ryan Rose, Danny Kanell
Washington @ UCLA 3:30 FSN Bill MacDonald, James Washington,
Brooke Olzendam, Courtney Jones
BYU @ Wyoming 2 PM mtn. James Bates, Todd Christensen, Andrea Lloyd
Colorado State @ UNLV 7 PT mtn. Bill Doleman, Robert Griffith, Molly Sullivan
Kent State @ Akron 3:30 FS Ohio
Rice @ SMU 3 PM CBSCS XXL Brad Sham, Allen Stone
UTEP @ Tulane 3:30 CBSCS XXL Sam Smith, Roger Schultz
Louisiana-Lafayette @ Arkansas State 3:30 CSS/CST Todd Kalas, Derek Rackley
Louisiana-Monroe @ North Texas 4 PM
Florida International @ Middle Tenn. St. 4:30 Gameplan
Troy @ Western Kentucky 5 PM
Florida Atlantic @ UAB 2 PM CBSCS XXL

Three of… well, the more interesting games of the weekend

Interestingly, both of my lineal title games are among the more interesting games in college football this coming weekend. Florida will be facing Georgia, while USC plays Oregon in what could be an effective Pac-10 title game, even if it has minimal national title implications.

In the NFL, if, as I’ve heard, we’re now going to start seeing Miles Austin double-covered, will that mean Roy Williams will now have a chance to show Jerry Jones didn’t completely waste his money on him? (Yeah right, like the stinky Seahawks will have any effect on them.)