Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hometown Hero Hates Computers

It's about time for our yearly doses of BCS controversy. This week's comes from the Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Daughtery, who has been featured here before. He's certainly a Cincinnati hometown writer, and to a certain extent I think writers in their hometown papers should be allowed some license. But this article abuses that privilege."BCS is one game UC Can't Win"

"BCS one game UC can't win"

UC wins by 31 and loses three spots in the BCS computer rankings. The Bearcats smack Louisville with a QB who’d never started a college game. The computer says UC had a lousy week.

They beat up on a terrible team. The computer didn't factor in that the QB hadn't started a game before!

That’s because Louisville is bad and BYU is good and TCU won at BYU and Iowa hasn’t lost and Boise State got shafted two years ago and Southern Cal has fabulous cheerleaders. Or some damned thing.

I like how he complains that it's so confusing. Hey, BYU is a better team than Louisville, so a win over BYU should count more! BYU was 6-1 coming in, while Louisville was 2-4.

Also, Iowa, Boise State and Southern Cal all have much more impressive resumes - wins over Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin (Iowa), Oregon (BSU, though their claim is weakest), Notre Dame, Cal, and Ohio State (USC) are more impressive than Cicninnati's.

It's not debatable.

The rankings account for schedule strength, conference strength, coaches voting, global warming, black helicopters and things that go bump in the night. To the BCS computers, if Florida beats Georgia in the parking lot of a Gainesville Burger King Saturday, it means less than if the Gators had done the winning out behind Weaver D’s Restaurant in Athens. Even if REM is eating there.

What? How hard is it to comprehend schedule strength? How hard is it to explain that a win on the road is a little more impressive than a win at home? How hard is it to explain conference strength?

Also, what are all those references doing here? Is this a Bill Simmons article? REM? Black helicopters? I don't get it.

The Bearcats are taking this well. Brian Kelly is absolutely rational about it. Kelly says all the right things, which for Kelly is highly unusual: We’re in the mix, he says. We have some big games coming up. Nobody’s great. Our players don’t think about it. Let’s let it play out.

Good for Brian Kelly, who is being rational about it. I like how Daugherty is surprised that Mr. Kelly is being rational. Like he expects the coach to share his hysterical, irrational perspective.

“It’s great the university is getting that recognition,’’ the coach allows. “I hope our admissions (are) up.’’

Fabulous. Let’s hear it for more applications.

What Kelly doesn’t say is, the whole deal is rigged. Not rigged in the manner of Soviet elections or nickel slots, but rigged just the same. Bloodlines matter, so Florida will win everything. Unless it’s Texas or Alabama.

Bloodlines matter and playing good opponents matter. How hard is this to understand?

The BCS is ingenious in the way it gets us all worked up about college football. Around here, it’s great we have the chance to get worked up personally. It beats planning the roadie to the Papajohn’ Bowl.

Sure, because Cincinnati has its best team in school history. But that doesn't mean they've ascended to the top of college football.

But America isn’t supposed to work this way. We compete. We tap gloves and come out fighting, may the best man win. My mousetrap against yours. We compete. We play off. Computing for a champion doesn’t compute.

Except that all 118 teams in FBS can't play, because a team can only play one game a week, and there aren't 118 weeks in the season. Even the top 25 can't all play! I realize this is a thinly veiled argument for a playoff, but the article doesn't mention any of the stumbling blocks to that end.

I asked Einstein about the BCS. How does it work? I ran it by Galileo, Copernicus and Kant. They had no clue. Stephen Hawking was stumped. Freud said it had something to do with my mother.

Well, I'm glad I read this.

I took my troubles down to Madame Rue. You know, the gypsy with the gold-capped tooth. What about the BCS? She gave me a Nick Saban voodoo doll and some pins. The good fans of Utah begged me to lie down in a cool place.

Well, I'm glad I read this.

“We’re coached just to do what we’re told to do on the field. It’s not a big deal’’ to the players, says Bearcats wideout D.J. Woods. Well, OK, but how come players hung around with their laptops Sunday afternoon, awaiting the new BCS rankings?

Because they want to do well? They're hopeful, even in a tough situation?

“Sunday, everybody was shocked,’’ Woods concedes. “How did that happen? I guess you have to be a big school surrounded by a big stadium.’’

I guess you have to be a school that schedules the best teams in college football instead of SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE.

Kelly argues that UC’s success is too new to make a big enough dent. The rookies have to stand on the table and sing their alma maters. You can’t just pledge the BCS frat. You have to swallow some goldfish first.

Or beat some good teams first. The comparison to a frat initiation is asinine. The team has to prove itself on the field of champions, instead of the field of patsies.

“That new person on the block has to prove (himself),’’ is Kelly’s explanation. “We keep winning, we’ll change the perceptions of what those traditional powers are. We’re in the process of putting together another great season.

“(If we) start doing that year in and year out, I think that changes everything.’’

Yes. Or, if your AD would've set up a tougher schedule five years ago, that would've given you a chance.

Maybe. But how many years? How many seasons of 10-win cred does it take a Cincinnati, or a program like it, to break the BCS glass ceiling?

More than one.

What if the Bearcats play, say, Alabama, in the Sugar Bowl, and roll the Tide the way Utah did? Then do they get a seat at the big boy table?

If they play more than one good team and beat them, then yes, they do. One win does not a champion make.

“We’ve got some games in front of us that really are going to serve us well,’’ Kelly adds. True enough, and those wins over Top 25s West Virginia and Pitt would get the Bearcats just high enough to chant “We’re Number Three!’’ if they win their BCS bowl game.

Good luck, Bearcats. But beating West Virginia and Pitt still don't prove your mettle like winning in a better conference would.

The BCS rankings have us talking, all right. Who’s listening?

Lots of people are listening. This is a terrible ending to a terrible article. The BCS has its flaws, I suppose, but this is a stupid article with a stupid premise. Shameless homerism which ignores the facts of the situation - that UC hasn't played and won against good teams, while other teams have - is embarrassing for any news writer or any newspaper.


Chris W said...

jesus danbob--that sure is a lot of orange.

Angelo said...

we don't have to get into a whole "the sec is god's gift to football" argument here, but florida's schedule has not been particularly tough either. Charleston Southern? Troy? What about Texas's schedule with Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, and UTEP out of conference? There are seven remaining unbeatens and only Iowa has a top-25 schedule by Sagarin. That's why the computers love them, but people don't because it's Iowa and they don't have Tim "slob on my knob" Tebow.

I agree Cincy isn't deserving and I would bet lots of money that they don't go undefeated this year. They still have 3 relatively tough games left in a solid conference. Big East is ranked 4th (again Sagarin) ahead of Big Ten and Big 12.

Really, you have the two best conferences (Pac-10, SEC) then a gap, then the other four strong conferences, then a gap, then the Mountain West, and then shit. I like the Pac-10 the most because they schedule the toughest games. 6 of the top 12 toughest schedules so far are Pac-10 teams, and only Arizona St has had a weak schedule.

Also, the SEC sucks.

dan-bob said...

I didn't realize the BE was rated so highly by Sagarin. Thanks, Angelo.

Angelo said...

just to clarify my point of listing the strength of conferences:
if Florida, Texas, Cincy, and TCU end the year as the only unbeatens, we can all agree that Florida will play Texas in the national championship. However, Texas and Cincy will have about equal strength of schedules in about equally strong conferences. So why should Texas get the nod over Cincy? Bloodlines/preseason rankings/big name university/colt mccoy? That's why I think Cincy has a right to be upset in general. You're right that not scheduling SE MO St. would give them a stronger argument, but Texas should have scheduled stronger too and no one complains about their cupcakes not hurting them if they win out.

The biggest reason a playoff is necessary:
Washington just cancelled games against BYU to replace them with games against Eastern Washington. If you look at the teams that play the toughest schedules, none survive the year undefeated, even though some of them are the best teams overall (i.e. if you knew who the top 13 were, and had them play a schedule solely of the other 12, no one would go undefeated and the team with the best record would not be Florida, or Cincy, or TCU). Teams are hurt marginally by weak strength of schedule, but are helped tremendously by having a guaranteed win. CFB isn't about the best competition, it's about making money. Surprise, they don't want a playoff.

Biggus Rickus said...

I love the midseason BCS overreaction column. The fact is we've had one year where a third unbeaten team from a major conference was shut out of the championship game. The odds that Florida or Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati, TCU, Iowa and Boise will all win out are about eight billion to one, give or take. So maybe, like Kelly said, we should see how it shakes out before we start worrying about who's getting screwed out of what?

Chris W said...


I can list shit cupcake teams for every team in college football (besides ND of course!!!!) but the bottom line is this:

We can go name for name for quality opponents Cincy has beaten vs. the quality opponents beaten by UF, Iowa, Bama, and Boise State and it's not going to end well for Cincy.

SEC overrated or not, it doesn't get much simpler than that.

Chris W said...

To wit, here are the teams Cincy has beaten this year:

--SE Missouri State
--Oregon State
--Fresno State (by a touchdown in Cincinnati)
--Miami of Ohio
--South Florida

Sorry dude. I'm not even gonna harp on SE Missouri State, but there's just no quality there.

Yes, Florida schedules some cupcakes, and yes Iowa almost lost to Arkansas State and Northern Iowa and that's embarrassing, but those teams have actually gone out there and beaten some quality opponents. What does Cincy have? Fresno State and Oregon State? Really dude?

Angelo said...

Fresno State: #30 Sagarin
Oregon State: #24 Sagarin

Fresno State is one of the most respectable teams in the country. Their motto is "we will play anyone anywhere anytime."
They lost in OT at Wisconsin, lost by 17 to Boise St, and yes lost by 8 to Cincy. That's a quality win for Cincy, even if you don't respect the name. Also, Oregon St is a quality win, especially away. They've lost to USC, Arizona, and Cincy, all very good teams.

I don't deny that Florida's schedule has been tougher than Cincy's, but it hasn't been that hard. Read my above posts and notice that I wasn't arguing Cincy should be first right now. The point is, end of season, if Cincy, Texas, Boise St, and TCU are all undefeated, I think Cincy has the best resume. Iowa and whoever is undefeated between Florida and Alabama will probably have a stronger case, so I didn't say Cincy should be #1. But I guarantee you, if Cincy wins out, regardless of the rest of the records, they will not play in the championship game. The Big East is not respected by the media or the general public, who would rather see a 1-loss Florida play a 1-loss USC. That's just how it is.

It's all moot anyway because Cincy will lose before the season ends.

Besides ND (who I respect for having tougher schedules than most), you have most of the Pac 10. They play 9 in conference, so here are the remaining 3 out of conference games.

Washington: LSU, Idaho, at Notre Dame
Arizona: Central Michigan, Northern Arizona, at Iowa
Oregon: at Boise State, Purdue, Utah
USC: San Jose St., at Ohio St, at ND
Washington St: Hawaii,SMU,at ND
UCLA: San Diego St.,at Tennessee, Kansas St.
Cal: Maryland,Eastern Wash, at Minnesota
Stanford: at Wake Forest, San Jose St, Notre Dame
Oregon St: Portland St, at UNLV, Cincinnati
Arizona St: Idaho St., Louisiana-Monroe, at Georgia

Total I-AA: 4
Total non-BCS: 15


1. Georgia: at Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Tennessee Tech, at Georgia Tech
2. South Carolina: at N.C. State, Florida Atlantic, South Carolina State, Clemson
3. LSU: at Washington, Louisiana-Lafayette, Tulane, Louisiana Tech
4. Alabama: vs. Virginia Tech, Florida International, North Texas, Chattanooga
5. Tennessee: Western Kentucky, UCLA, Ohio, Memphis
6. Vanderbilt: Western Carolina, at Rice, at Army, Georgia Tech
7. Mississippi State: Jackson State, Georgia Tech, Houston, at Middle Tennessee State
8. Auburn: Louisiana Tech, West Virginia, Ball State, Furman
9. Florida: Charleston Southern, Troy, Florida International, Florida State
10. Kentucky: at Miami (Ohio), Louisville, Louisiana-Monroe, Eastern Kentucky
11. Arkansas: Missouri State, vs. Texas A&M, Eastern Michigan, Troy
12. Mississippi: at Memphis, Southeastern Louisiana, UAB, Northern Arizona

Total I-AA: 11
Total non-BCS: 23

Gee, I wonder why so many SEC teams make it to bowl games.

Jarrett said...

Damn, Angelo. That's a whole bunch of facts that you've got there. But here's something you've ignored - who has the time for Pac 10 football? It's in the Pacific time zone - do you know how hard it can be to stay up on a Saturday to watch some of those games?

Sean D said...

1. It's about the money, from three sources:
a) Home stadium revenues (direct).
b) Share of conference bowl money for getting one extra conference team in a bowl game (conference cooperation);
c) Share of conference's MAJOR bowl money for having a second conference team in one (conference cooperation).
(a) is huge for the team. (c) is huge as well. no doubt that Fla and Ala will make major bowl games if they are undefeated heading into their SEC Championship matchup.

2. I am a Husky fan, and I and disturbed by its schedule change.

3. Cincy's goal should be to make the major bowl game by winning the conference. Past Big East mid-season whiners with cupcake schedules got their comeuppance with late season upsets. That's what happens when you don't test yourself and find weak areas to improve on (or eliminate).

4. Rankings are very stubborn to change. Pre-season rankings (based on reputation, prior year, returning starters' quanitiy and quality, etc.), get too much subconscious credit during the season, all the way to the final BCS ranking.

5. Yo, Jarret, two words: Ti. Vo. If it's that important to watch. Get up early and watch before reading the paper or watching sports news.

6. Lastly, it is obvious that letting people with a biased interest in the Last Game and Major Bowl teams choose the teams is a bad idea. The SEC interest base has figured out the system.

Martin said...

Holy hell, the Irish should forget about joining the Big 11 or the Big East, looking at the schedule they ought to join the Pac-10. They have 4 games against them.

I have long thought the SEC was the best conference in the country, but as Angelo points out, they play pretty much nobody outside the conference. They use the excuse that's because the conference play is so tough. it becomes a circular argument though, which ends up being based on the pre-concieved notion that the conference is superior to begin with, based on no evidence, just blind faith.

I actually blame this chicken and egg argument of the SEC for the weakening of schedules. Teams feel they have to go undefeated because of the pre-concieved idea that the SEC is always the superior conference. This gives us weaker schedules with much fewer out of conference marquee match ups. It also is a reason I think ESPN slobers all over USC.

Southern Cal usually schedules two good games out of conference each year, Notre Dame and someone else. Now sometimes the team might not be very good that year, but come from a big time/name school, and shows that at least the Trojans made an effort. It gets ABC/ESPN better game choices and ratings. Over the last few years they've had Nebraska, Arkansas, Auburn and Ohio State in home and homes, and Fresno State at home. Bitch about the stroke job they continually get, but at least realize that very few teams can put up a similar OOC schedule like that the last 8 years.

Biggus Rickus said...

An argument can be made that the Pac-10 is the best conference, but it's not as if the SEC only wins because it feasts on patsies. Anyway, here's a pro-Pac-10 argument:

Angelo said...

to correct a mistake above:
For the pac-10, I included the I-AA in the non-BCS, but I (actually Matt Hayes from ) didn't do so for the SEC. So really, to be consistent, it should read
I-AA: Pac-10 4, SEC 11
non-BCS: Pac-10 15, SEC 34

Cornelius Talmidge said...

Angelo, I don't want to open up a giant can of worms here, because you're obviously willing to take the bate, but you aren't seriously suggesting that the Pac 10 (said with spitting disgust) is comparable to the SEC, such that those two conferences are coupled together atop the elite of college football, clearly superior to the Big 10 and Big 12?

Maybe I'm confused, but when did the Pac 10 stop having one great team (USC), two decent teams (Oregon and Cal), and seven teams stuck somewhere between average and utter shit?

dan-bob said...

CT, Angelo did provide the numbers. Your take on the situation looks a bit short on support...

Andy said...

Martin, a beef:

"Southern Cal usually schedules two good games out of conference each year, Notre Dame and someone else."

You don't get points for effort. You get points for playing good teams. USC Deserves no credit at all for playing Notre Dame for the last few years (this year excluded), because they were awful. The fact that they used to be good means jack shit. When you schedule teams, you have to play them that year, and any other year is irrelevant.

Other than on.

Angelo said...

Cornelius, I am clearly willing to take the bait. I would argue that the Pac-10 is definitely superior to the SEC, although it may be related to the fact that I prefer to watch Pac-10 games than SEC games. Plus, I respect the conference for scheduling better games and proving themselves (even if they take losses) rather than riding preseason rankings to bowl games. As Martin said, it's a circular argument with the SEC.

I like that you said "clearly superior to the Big 10 and Big 12" instead of including the ACC and Big East. Sagarin has 1. Pac-10 2. SEC 3. ACC 4. Big East 5. Big Ten 6. Big 12

As I mentioned, 1. and 2. are close and then 3-6 are all close together. If you ask general public or whoever votes in the AP poll, I think you get 1. SEC 2. Big 12 3. Pac-10 4. Big Ten 5. ACC 6. Big East
Why is that?

2 great teams (USC, Oregon)
2 good teams (Cal, Arizona)
3 decent teams (Oregon St.,Stanford,Washington)
2 not good teams (UCLA, Arizona St)
1 shit team (Wash St.)

2 great teams (Florida, Alabama)
1 good team (LSU)
6 decent teams (Ole Miss, South Carolina, Georgia, Auburn, Arkansas,Kentucky)
2 not good teams (Tennessee, Miss. St)
1 shit team (Vanderbilt)

SEC has more teams, so they have more decent teams. But the distribution is similar.

Conference Head-to-head:
LSU won at Washington (good over decent), Arizona St lost at Georgia (decent over not good), UCLA won at Tennessee (not good over not good).
And LSU probably only scheduled at Washington because they were bottom-feeders in the Pac-10 when it was scheduled.

The other thing I didn't mention in the out-of-conference schedule comparisons:
SEC percentage of road games - 19%
Pac-10 percentage of road games - 37%

Don't believe the hype.

dan-bob said...

By what qualification do you determine that Oregon is great and LSU merely good?

Cornelius Talmidge said...

Dan-Bob, I'm a working man, so I'll have to appeal to the common sense of your readers on this one. But anyway, what numbers did Angelo provide proving that the Pac 10 has better football teams than the SEC? Non-conference strength of schedule and Jeff Sagarin's ratings? Oh. Nevermind then. The Pac 10 is better. Oh, and also Va. Tech is better than Texas. Jeff probably wishes he had that one back.

Martin said...

Andy, if you played teams the year you schedule them, then yes. They make the schedules a few years in advance for OOC games though, so if a team schedules a Nebraska or a Miami (Fla.)or a Florida, you don't necessarily know that it's going to be Ron Zook Florida or Urban Meyer Florida. By scheduling teams that have been good for a long time, or are big name schools, you can cut down the odds of having a 3-10 stinker OOC team on your schedule. That's all I was saying about USC getting credit.

Notre Dame might suck this year, but we pretty much know that Louisiana Monroe is going to stink every year.

Chris W said...

wow, just wow, at Angelos' "great/good/average/awful" rundown of the SEC and Pac-10.

I like how Arizona is in the same tier as fucking LSU. Wonderful.

Angelo said...

Arizona is 14 in Sagarin and in average computer ranking. Oregon is 3 in Sagarin and 6 in average computer rankings. They've both had some of the toughest schedules in the country so far. I used Sagarin for the breakdown of the groups because it's the one I know, but an average of all the computer polls would be better. Feel free to take the time and do it. I chose
great = top 10
good = top 20
decent = top 40
not good = top 100
shitty = > 100

And notice, I was trying to be fair. If I would have chosen top 25 for good instead of top 20 for good, I would have gotten Stanford and Oregon St in good, and no extra SEC teams would move up. I knew I would hear about that from the pro-SEC contingent, so I chose top 20 to avoid that argument. But you're still pissed at seeing ratings that disagree with your preconceived notions of football superiority. Have you seen an Arizona game this year Chris? Without everyone playing each other, I'd rather go by computer polls that attempt to use statistics and unbiased analysis to determine rankings than the human polls.

And CT, I bet Jeff also wishes he had that unrealistic #27 for Ole Miss back, since the only team they've beaten this year with a winning record is 4-3 I-AA Southeastern Louisiana.

So maybe they'll come back and beat Auburn and make me look stupid for saying that. But based on their performance so far, I would have them much lower than #27. And if they start beating good teams, I (and the computer rankings) will respect them for it. But I'm glad they are still #22 in USA today for being in the SEC and for having a preseason top-10 ranking.

Chris W said...

At a certain point you have to stop looking at Sagarin as the be all and end all and look at these simple and basic facts of who Arizona has beaten (basically nobody but Oregon State) and who they have lost to (Washington and the team that almost lost to IU today) and who LSU has beaten (that same Washington team, as well as Auburn and Georgia) and who they lost to (The #1 team in the country--by 10 points--and no one fucking else)

It's absolutely ridiculous to claim that Arizona is on the same level as LSU. In fact basically none of your classifications in re: pac-10 and sec "tiering" make any fucking sense and if Sagarin is how you arrived at those conclusions, it's probably time to start examining new ways to compare teams because the method has failed you miserably in this instance.

Chris W said...

Just to be brief, here is the disjunct you are blindly missing: These "S.O.S." indicators skew because of "cupcake" teams played intermittently between tough teams.

I think almost every college football fan would say that a team who has beaten 6 teams that are 10-2 and 6 teams that are 2-10 has a much better case than a team that has beaten 12 teams that are 7-5. But you're taking the exact opposite stance.

If that's how you want to view college football, that's fine. You're certainly not "inherently" wrong. But don't expect to find much common ground with college football fans.

Cornelius Talmidge said...

Angelo, where are you getting your "average computer rankings"? Sorry, but you're either making them up (Arizone #14?? what??) or they are deeply flawed (Oregon #3 prior to USC game? you've got to be kidding...). No offense, but those are flat-out ludicrous rankings.

Cornelius Talmidge said...

Sorry, misread the Oregon ranking. It was #3 in Sagarain, not "computer," prior to the USC game. Just most nonsense from Sagarin.

Cornelius Talmidge said...

And that, friends, is why you do not post when drunk.