Monday, December 08, 2008

BCS Controversy- Don't blame the "computers!"

It's official, Oklahoma and Florida will play for the BCS Championship.
I've heard a lot of gripes in the past few weeks from Big 12 folks about "the stupid computers!" (They're not computers but mathematical formulas put together by some individuals).

In front of me is a spreadsheet of the inputs that go into the BCS formula. I do this so I can see exactly how close it was. I didn't hear anyone talking about this on Fox last night.

I calculate that if Texas had gotten about 20 more points in both the Coaches' Poll and the Harris Poll (or some distribution of 40 points taken away from Florida and given to Texas in both polls holding all else constant), then Oklahoma and Texas would be playing for the BCS title.
That means that if just 40 voters had moved Texas up a spot and Florida down a spot, we'd have a different championship game. There are 114 voters in the Harris Poll and 61 in the Coaches' Poll (175 total).
*update*- it appears Alabama is the real spoiler. Many voters ranked Alabama ahead of Texas. Had Florida blown out Alabama resoundingly, would the polls have been different? Probably.

The "computers" ranked Texas ahead of Florida by a clear margin. The average rank among the 6 ratings the BCS uses was:
Texas: 2.5
Florida: 3.75
(Oklahoma was ranked #1 by all 6 "computers.")

The BCS drops the lowest and the highest rank. It considers a #1 ranking worth 25 points, #2 worth 24 points, etc. Since by dropping 2 "computers" you have 100 points possible, Texas ends up with 94 points, Florida with 89. This is turned into a percentage (94%, 89%) and is the number used by the BCS, and makes up 1/3 of the formula.

It came down to the polls, where Florida beat Texas in resounding fashion. The Harris Poll makes the biggest difference, Florida finished #1 and got 97.4% of a possible 2850 points. The Harris Poll is made up of
"former players, coaches, administrators and current and former media who are committed to ranking the college teams each week during the 2008 college football season"
You can see individual votes here. (Let me know if you find anything suspect).

The Coaches' Poll is the other one. Texas received some first place votes in that one, but Florida was only 1 point away from finishing #1 in the Coaches' Poll. It was 73 votes ahead of Texas. That made the difference 97.1% for Florida vs. 92.3% for Texas (out of a possible 1525 points).

So, it was the pollsters, primarily those in the Harris Poll that made the difference. If the "computers" had their way, we'd see Texas and OU squaring off again for the title.

That said, I hope Florida beats Oklahoma 56-14.

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