December 03, 2006

Gators going to Glendale - and my thoughts on the BCS

LA Times had the first leak, and USA Today just reported that the Gators did jump ahead of Michigan in the BCS poll, pitting them against Ohio State on January 8th for the BCS Championship Game on FOX.

BCS official website was last to the punch. Final poll here.

At 3pm today, the two human polls pushed Florida from four to two on the heels of the USC loss and the Michigan sabbatical, effectively killing any drama of this result. The margin by which the Gators snuck by the Wolverines stands quite compelling:
  • 2670 to 2632 on the Harris,
  • 1529 to 1526 on the AP, and
  • 1470 to 1444 on the Coaches Poll.

1) Avoiding rematches should be part of the bylaws or SOP of the Bowl Championship Series. Using this year as an example, if Michigan were to play the Buckeyes again and beat them, the season series would be 1-1, yet Michigan would be crowned the victors? Don't think so.

Wolverines, you had your shot in the Horseshoe. Nice effort. Way to build off last year. There is a lovely consolation prize behind Door #1. Enjoy the Rose Bowl - See ya in the spring.

2) Let us say that there are only 50 of the 119 Division 1 teams that can truly have a shot at the #1 spot each year - the only 100% confidence way to see who is best is to play 49 games on a neutral field all at the same time with no injuries. There are less than 13 regular season games each year - an incredibly small statistical sampling of needed matchups to determine a true regular season pecking order. 13 games provides less than a 25% confidence level.

Regardless of bowls or playoffs, it may only be right one of four times. For comparison, National League hitters only had a .265 batting average this year - again, the BCS system excels at quantitatively sorting out a very complex system with a decent level of confidence.

I call for each of you to embrace the chaos! There will never be a perfect system, and if there are two teams that are clearly most deserving of the title game, then the BCS won't apply.

That is part of the allure of the college football sport. There will never be a bona fide clear cut selection for the top 2 (or top 8 for that matter). Our current system of polling and (hopefully) bias-free computer analysis is pretty damned good. Most people do not attempt this level of due diligence on their retirement plans or their choice of a mate. Most people apply too much emotion or harbor too many preconceptions to address those choices - do these sound familiar to you college football fans?

3) The margin of the polls will fuel many debates about Michigan's case to be in the Championship, but regardless of the motivation of the pollsters, Gators are in the Show. Whether voters actually believe UF is the second best team, whether voters have a bias against rematches, or whether the Gators were just good enough to keep Michigan out of the picture it doesn't matter.

Obviously this debate of Florida over Michigan was setlled by less that five people - prepare to hear from them over the next couple days.

No comments: