Standings v. Rankings

Submitted by MGoPietrowski on November 21st, 2011 at 3:24 PM

This has been on my mind ever since I walked out of Michigan Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with the biggest smile I've had in a while. I think it is worthwhile to discuss, and even though many of you will disagree with me and my own opinion, i can easily see how that would be possible, and wont act all butt-hurt about it. 

I have spent alot of time lately wondering about the polls and the various weekly rankings that come out, that we wait for, every sunday afternoon. I know that the rankings and win/loss results account for half of the fun we have with this great sport when our teams aren't on the field, but I definitely think that one thing thats lost within a BCS "rankings" system that would not be in a standings format: Logic. 

I would like to give you three examples as to why I feel this way:

1. THE NFL. I know they get to fit a whole 12 teams into their post season quest for a Championship, whilst the NCAA has to pick just 2. I understand this makes for an easier method of explaining to fans why their team is out of the running. But at the same time, not once do you hear ESPN announcers sitting around arguing that a 7-9 Steelers team should get in over a 9-7 Bengals team because of bullshit intangibles such as  strength of schedule, who has the harder conference/division/etc. Nope. It's cut and dry. Wins and losses. You know what you have to do, and you have to do it. 

2. NCAA CONFERENCE STANDINGS. For those of you who say "That Win-Loss stuff just can't work in college football" :::::: All of the conferences base who wins their divisions off of Win/Loss Records and then pre-determined tie breakers. At no point have we heard any news coming down from the Big Ten Atheletic Offices that One team with a worse win loss record should get a berth to the B1G Championship because their schedule was harder. Lord knows. In a perfect world, we would have beaten Iowa, and if we were tied 7-1 and 7-1 with Sparty at the end of the season, they wouldn't have permitted who went to Indy by a poll of sports writers who only watch 3 games a weekend. They'd go with head to head, then mutual opponentsm, or division record.

3. IRRATIONALITY: I am not saying that I think Michigan should be ranked above Oklahoma state, but does no one else realize what happened this weekend? Michigan routed a nationally tradional power, who was not only ranked, but concerning the BCS, was ranked higher than them. Michigan rolled Nebraska. How far do we advance? Three spots. We barely crack the top 15. However, Oklahoma State lost to AN UN RANKED TEAM in Iowa State. Somehow, after they were given the charge to simply prove their worthiness by going into Iowa, beating a team that's not even currently recognized by the BCS pundits, and they flat out failed. Apparently, they are still the #4th ranked team in the country. 

And why does the BCS computer-run poll seem to resemble national media opinion/hype in the most uncanny of ways? When LSU strokes a conference opponent, LSU uber alles. When Michigan rolls a team that was picked to beat them, apparently Nebraska had a bad day, or they were over rated. Do you not see that these are opinions? Just like the one I'm giving you! My problem is that a purely mathematical ranking system shouldn't reflect exactly what these ESPN dicks are saying, at least as accurately as it is. 

I'm not going to open the can of worms that is BCS v PLAYOFF/ and i'm not going to touch the whole top 3 teams are SEC teams thing with a 20 foot pole. But until this rankings thing is figured out, or at least kept honest, college football can not be considered a real, tangible and competitive sport. In many cases, it doesn't matter how hard these kids play, or how many losses they do or don't have, but which talking head with the most clout seems to be giving them the biggest endorsement. 

Imagine if the Red Wings had to depend on Rosenberg to decide if he was going to get hard for them or not, in order to make the playoffs.

That's some pretty frustrating shit...




November 21st, 2011 at 3:38 PM ^

One of two things. 

1. That the current BCS system resemble more of a standing-oriented format and minimize opinion.

2. Or that the BCS rankings system is kept honest. I firmly believe it is not honest now. Half of me wonders if all of the published numbers behind are falsified and its still a certain number of pundits ranking teams based off of their own opinion. 

The main reason i feel this way is Okie State staying at #4 after dropping that game to an unranked Iowa State. That's so suspicious to me. Especially since Herbstreit and all the other big namers are supporting it. 


November 21st, 2011 at 3:46 PM ^

Ok, but how would that standings system work when you have 120 teams? It works out nicely when you only have 30 or so. If you only have the conference rankings, then how do you determine which teams go to which bowls? Or are you saying we should do away with bowls and have a playoff system that only includes conference champions? If you are suggesting that, then I would totally disagree with you. You don't need to look any further than the Big East, much less to even lesser conferences like the Mountain West, C-USA, etc.


November 21st, 2011 at 5:01 PM ^

You don't have to, but it removes a round to get you back down to 6 rounds instead of 7. That would help keep your season at roughly the same number of games assuming that conferences play 8 games still.

It would be kind of cool to alter it so that there was a rotation of conferences to play. So, a 1-0 team from the B1G team plays a 1-0 team from the MAC one week, then plays either a 2-0 team or a 1-1 team from the Pac10 the next week, then moves on to play a team from the Big East the next.


November 21st, 2011 at 3:54 PM ^

What helps them is 3 other Top 10 teams lost.  Had Oregon and Oklahoma won, those two teams would probaby be ranked ahead of Oklahoma St. 

As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, you can bet that as the season winds down the rankings for teams from BCS conferences will settle into this pattern:  teams with 0 losses are ranked the highest, teams with only 1 loss next, teams with 2 losses, etc.  Okie St is in the middle of 1 loss teams.  The teams behind them are from conferences the computers don't think are nearly as strong as the Big 12.


November 21st, 2011 at 3:42 PM ^

between the NFL and college football are:

1.  Number of teams

2.  Number of games

Because the NFL has less teams and more games, you can more sure about who makes it to the postseason and who the champion should be. 

Choosing a national champion among 130-something teams, when each team only plays 12-14 games, is almost always going to involve some form of uncertainty about who's being crowned the champion.  You can marginally increase your confidence level by tinkering with the format, but simply changing the format (e.g. changing to a pure win-loss system as you mention, using a playoff system) will never get you to NFL-type levels of confidence in the result.


November 21st, 2011 at 3:46 PM ^

But seriously, the BCS is flawed. No one's arguing against you here.
<br>While it makes things like this weekend interesting where 4 top 10 teams lost, it is unreasonable and biased.

Hardware Sushi

November 21st, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

Sorry, I didn't read the whole thing...afternoon ADHD. But - I do agree that this year's rankings are really screwed up.

The perceptions of the SEC and Big 12 are really bothering me. South Carolina and Georgia are both ahead of every Big Ten team? Ha...SEC East might as well be the Big East this year.


November 21st, 2011 at 4:28 PM ^

did the B1G loose last year? Which B1G teams have looked like a far and away powerhouse this year? How did the B1G fair against non-conference opponents from the Big 12 and the SEC this year (both losses).

On paper and in reality this is a rebuilding year for the B1G. Michigan State and Wisconsin are the two teams that are maybe the least in rebuild mode. Wisconsin has pooched the dog twice. MSU twice as well.

Like it or not we are in the muddy middle with the Pac 12 and the ACC because of our non-conference play last year and at the start of this season. (If we had beat both MSU and Iowa, and Wisconsin was undefeated, it would be interesting to see the impact to the rankings in that case.)

Finally, there are some games to be played yet, and some of the teams you are questioning could loose some more.

For right now the B1G is approximately where it should be, and only the bowl season will prove differently. The good news is, if the SEC gets 3 in (this remains to be seen, but if they do), our SEC match-ups are not 1 up for a change (e.g., SEC #3 vs B1G #4), and we now have Nebraska in the mix.

Personally, I think we should go back to the major bowls as matchups between conference champions, and the NC game should be played between #1 and #2 after the final post bowl rankings come out.


Hardware Sushi

November 21st, 2011 at 5:48 PM ^

I'm not saying LSU and Alabama are weak because they aren't, but c'mon, I can make the exact same argument about the teams I've described:

Georgia lost to the only decent teams they played: Boise, which dominated them and has lost since, and South Carolina, which may have been good at one point but are a terrible team without Lattimore. Actually, Doc Saturday breaks down the SEC Easy for me.

The SEC East champs opponents' win percentage is .313! Jeebus.

Mississippi and Kentucky are as bad as Minnesota and Indiana, whether you want to believe it or not. I'd also like to point out the scores during this past weekend's "Hey we're the SEC and we make fun of the Big Ten for its MACrifice weekend but we play an even worse schedule in November that is essentially a bye" with heated matchups against Citadel, Furman (Up 22-7 at the end of 1), Samford (down 14-13 in the third to the Barners), and Georgia Southern (Bama winning 31-21 in the third). They all won, but Continuous Big Ten Sucks Meme Journalists would've been all over our ass about those kinds of scores.

Arkansas has played the rugged OOC schedule of Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy, and Texas A&M, which folds like a piece of paper when given any sort of lead. A&M is now 6-5 after being preseason top-10. Arkansas also lost by a larger margin to Alabama than Penn State, for what that's worth. Three years ago it was "The SEC plays such tough defense" to justify low-scoring games....that's the justification being used for the LSU-Bama game. But apparently the Big Ten sucks this year because we can't score and the Big Twelve is good because their secondaries can't tackle (see the tackle by the safety on Gallon here if you want an example)

If we're comparing the Big Ten to the Big Twelve and you want to use last season's bowls, then I'll point to Illinois beating Baylor and Iowa beating Missouri.

I realize this is a down year for the Big Ten, but I also feel like I'm being fed a bunch of shit here by lazy media talking heads and initialized entities with billion-dollar investments and the shit smells like every league is having a lot of parity rather than the Big Ten sucks.


November 21st, 2011 at 6:44 PM ^

Thanks for typing so very much about this, I am lazy but feel the same frustration.  It's just like when Oklahoma or Texas was in the national championship mix every year because the Big XII just let those two teams steamroll them all the time.  I did look up the conference records for the B1G and SEC... hrmmm, which conference has numerous teams that just roll over for any reasonable competition?



November 21st, 2011 at 8:09 PM ^

there are a lot of overrated teams ahead of B1G teams with better records. I'm just saying I can see why it is happening. In the end I am hoping we (the Conference) have a good bowl season, and next year we get the uptick. In the grand scheme of things, if we (especially We) get a second BCS berth, then the B1G has done pretty well in a messy season.

If the discussion we were having was the B1G cheated out of the second berth - then I am pissed. But when the dust settles on Saturday, I hope to have that question settled, with the remaining one being Fiesta or Sugar?


November 21st, 2011 at 4:57 PM ^

Win you win 5 straight BCS title games with 4 different teams, you're conference is going to get tons of respect.  Not to mention they've been winning these early season showdown games - LSU beat Oregon, Alabama beat VaTech and Clemson a few seasons ago, LSU beat UNC last year.  When a conference is consistently winning big non-conference games, it's going to help you.  Maybe it means one year the conference is over-rated.

If the Big Ten had done a better job the last 5-10 years of winning big games, maybe teams would be ranked higher this year.  Unfortunately, since the #1 vs #2 match-up of OSU and UM the Big Ten has gone 2-7 in BCS bowl games (OSU's Sugar Bowl win last year is not counted) and many of those losses haven't been close.


November 21st, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

I think this is where Brady Hoke has the right idea of playing for the Big Ten championship.  That is something the team can control.  Win your games and you win the Big Ten.  I find myself caring less and less about this BCS stuff since it is so biased.  Look back at what was said 2, 3, 4 weeks ago by all the media.  After last weekend it is meaningless.  I root for Michigan to win.  Everything else is all just for entertainment purposes.  I guess if we finish a regular season undefeated and get left out of an NC game then I would start complaining.  Bottom line there needs to be a playoff to settle it on the field.


November 21st, 2011 at 4:05 PM ^

The level of importance for winning games will not go away if a playoff is created. What's wrong with 6 AQ conference champions and 2 at large schools to cover circumstance like Alabama from the SEC this year and other Non AQ schools? Lengthen conference schedule (say 9-10 games) and play the rest out as is. Sure #9 team will gripe, but #69 team in NCAA bball gripes. Somebody needs to be ousted.


November 21st, 2011 at 4:13 PM ^

wrestled total control, they have used the bigten's way down perception and the same with the pac12, why usc isn't usc and oregon keeps getting beat by every good defense they play.  The big12 imploded and has no credibility so they hang on the sec's coat tails and votes with the sec and the sec lets them so they can put another big12 team in the bcs title game they want to ensure the sec gets the win.  Follow all that.... great, its corrupt in every way and the bigten has a part in it just right now the sec is the dominant player. 


Consider this...

Alabama loses and drops 3 spots, Oklahoma lost earlier this yr and drops 4 spots, wisconsin lost to a 1 loss team and dropped 10 spots.  Stanford loses and drops 5 spots, Oregon lost to lsu and dropped 8 spots, Michigan lost and dropped 10 spots, Michigan wins and climbs 3 while Oklahoma loses a second game and barely drops, okie st loses to an unranked opponent and barely drops.


Point is, I don't care who arkansas, alabama, oklahoma and okie st lost to they deserved to drop major spots in the polls and everyone else move up in their place.  That's how it works but for the sec and big12 teams riding their coat tails that isn't how it's working...........Vatech should be top 4, likely #3 right now in the country, and if they win the acc should vault any sec team.  Any one loss champion or 2 loss champion for that matter should jump a team that cannot win it's own conference.  Until we get a playoff, which in my opionion should only include conference champions and maybe an at large or two, then should we consider this, and at that an at large birth better come from a team in the top 3 that didn't win it's division or conference..........  and imho, voting should be removed by conferences who vote up their teams and down other conference teams.....


November 21st, 2011 at 5:11 PM ^

They should be one of the lowest ranked 2 loss teams, but instead they are the highest. They have an unranked home loss, a low ranked road loss, only one quality win that still stands, and have played one less team than any other 2 loss ranked team right now. So what if they beat #5? # 5 was Florida State who is a 4 loss team now. Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State all have better resumes and have played an extra game so have had another chance to lose, so should be ranked higher. Both of PSU's losses were to highly ranked teams, Michigan and Wisconsins unranked losses were road losses instead of a home loss, and their quality wins were better wins. Sparty has better quality losses, and 2 quality wins standing. When you win or lose matters much more than how or why for some reason that defies description. South Carolina should be ranked somewhere in the lower 20s. They have one quality loss to a ranked opponent, a home loss to an unraked opponent, and have no ranked wins. They should at least be below Penn State, yet inexplicably they are ranked 12th. 


November 21st, 2011 at 4:24 PM ^

Michigan is playing much better team, passing ball.  Memphis is too sloppy with all these hoopers playing for themselves only.  Really like how Belein has shaped this team.


November 21st, 2011 at 5:20 PM ^

Wow. A lot going on here.

One, you don't see people arguing whether a 10-2 team is better than a 8-4 team. Look at the rankings. Pretty much all the 1 loss teams are ahead of the 2 loss teams who are ahead of the 3 loss teams. I think overall strength of schedule and quality wins/bad losses aren't taken into account well enough.

And I don't see how your third point fits in well with your previous two. Do you want OkSt to drop like a rock, or do you want their position reflect the fact so few teams have managed zero or one losses in a BCS conference?

The computer polls are the way they are because they've been completely neutered. Every time we think there might be a problem with the BCS, the computers take a large share of the blame, and get forced to change to fit our preconcieved notions.

I'm not seeing where the media is driving something that is patently untrue. Like, are you trying to suggest that the three SEC teams at the top don't deserve to be there? It's not perfect, but its not awful, and we'll see how things shake out after all the games are played.


November 21st, 2011 at 5:21 PM ^

Why can't we have playoffs AND a bcs?!

BCS pros - provides a lot of revenue during bowl season.  Tons of bowl games = tons of cash!  Teams like houston aren't playing for the national championship.

BCS cons - potentially Miami, LSU, and U of M are all undefeated.  Who gets left out for the national championship?

Playoff pros - we get to definitively decide who is number 1

Playoff cons - we wouldn't get bowl season, and it would take up too much of the athletes time during december - january.

I would propose to keep the BCS, and have an 8 team playoff.  That way we could have the definitive champion, and still keep bowl season.

"8 team playoff, how would that work?!"

There would be the championship game weekend, where we are left with our champions of the B1G, ACC, SEC, Pac12, Big12, and big East (althought let's be honest, the big east doesn't deserve a bid most years) and then we could have two at large bids with teams who are either undefeated in terrible conferences (Houston, usually Boise, etc.)  or an at large bid (Like Alabama this year).  Then we're left with 8 teams, that would only take 3 rounds to decide a winner.

Red is Blue

November 21st, 2011 at 5:28 PM ^

At no point have we heard any news coming down from the Big Ten Atheletic Offices that One team with a worse win loss record should get a berth to the B1G Championship because their schedule was harder.

Let's suppose MSU loses this weekend and Michigan wins.  The B1G advances a 9-3 team to the BTCG over a 10-2 team.  So while the B1G doesn't argue that a team with a worse win/loss record should get a berth because their schedule was harder, they do argue (implicitly) that a team with a worse won/loss record should advance because some of their games shouldn't count.  Instead of making a black/white decision on which games count/don't count, the BCS makes a grayer decision on how much a team's particular win/loss should count.

Wrt to the NFL not worrying about strength of schedule.  I would argue that the variability in schedule strength is probably a lot lower in the NFL than in the NCAA.  Further, teams in the NFL can't pick who they are going to play whereas that is not true in college OOC.  Also, in the NFL the majority of the teams that get into the playoffs (the non-wildcard playoff participants) are choosen amongst teams in the same division that play very comparable schedules.  For example, the only difference between the schedules for the Lions and the Packers is the Lions play Dallas and San Fransico whereas the Packers play St Louis and NY Giants.




November 21st, 2011 at 5:48 PM ^

Here is a suggestion. Change the voters. Right now most of the poll voters are south of the M-D line. Just like American Idol (where 9 out of the last 10 winners has been south of the M-D line), there is regional voting that is highly biased. You want fair voting change the criteria. Do not expect people south of the M-D line to vote for B10 teams. For most of the voters in the south, their college team is the most important thing in their lives. 


November 21st, 2011 at 5:58 PM ^

This is sort of tied into this discussion, but I don't like the idea that the conference championship games seem to hurt more teams than they help. The perfect example of this is if Michigan State happens to lose in the conference championship and thus end up going to a worse bowl than Michigan. It justs offers teams another chance to lose and push them back in the rankings despite having won their half of the conference. Granted this could be changed by having the loser of the championship game be locked into the number two bowl game of that conference (in this case the capital one game for the Big 10). This may be the case but I have heard that State could be pushed into a much smaller bowl if they lose in the championship and that's pretty stupid. Granted, its MSU and so pretty funny, but I have a feeling Michigan will find themselves in that situation soon enough and don't want them to be penalized for making the championship game but losing.

NOLA Wolverine

November 21st, 2011 at 6:20 PM ^

You're concerned that there wasn't a bigger bump for the Nebraska win? If you want more volatility just go back and amplify the effects of ND, MSU, Iowa, and Nebraska and we end up in the same place. Same thing happens for Oklahoma State.