Blog Entry

Man, Thatís Just Mean

Posted on: November 28, 2010 9:20 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2010 3:14 pm
  •  
 

Note:  Clicking a team link in this blog will show you how everyone voted for that team.  Clicking a voter name link will show you their ballot.




This week is another great example of why people should care about polls and rankings.  It’s not just about the BCS championship game.  Teams with higher rankings get better TV, radio and newspaper coverage…  and sometimes they even help determine conference championships.

This week, one conference is depending on the BCS to sort out their champions:  the Big Ten.  Also, the Big 12 came very close to having a repeat of 2008.

The Big 10 still has the three-way tie I discussed at length last week between  Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State.  Again, if you went in order of head-to-head victories, that is how they would be ranked:  Michigan State > Wisconsin > Ohio State.  Michigan State should be going to the Rose Bowl.  Instead, they won’t be going to any BCS bowl because they are the lowest of the three in the BCS rankings.

Here is the actual rule that is causing all of the fuss (section B.5.e):

“If three teams are still tied, and all three teams have the same winning percentage of all games played, the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings shall be the representative.”

Since all three teams have the same winning percentage (11-1 overall), The BCS standings are used.  However, the rules don’t account for this year’s situation.  There is no contingency for when there is a very clear set of head-to-head results, but all three teams haven’t played each other.   The Big Ten obviously puts a lot of weight behind head-to-head results.  It is the first applicable tiebreaker (B.2):

“If there is a tie for the championship, the winner of the game between these two teams shall represent the conference.”

However, the rules incorrectly throw out the head-to-head results when an extra team gets added to the mix, but when they don’t all play each other.  The Big Ten set up the schedule for Michigan State, and the Spartans did what they needed to do considering they weren’t slated to play Ohio State.  However, B.5.e robs Michigan State of the bowl game they deserve.  The Big Ten, based on the order of their tiebreaker rules, states that head-to-head results are the most important factor in breaking ties, but then falls back on the BCS to resolve the current situation, trumping the head-to-head results. 

The rules should have stipulated that the BCS would be used only when all three teams have a win over each other.  That would make a circular reference that would be impossible to resolve by head-to-head results.  However, that isn’t the case this year.  Michigan State is the clear winner of the head-to-head matchups, and is the clear loser of the Big Ten rules.  Some fans (particularly Wisconsin fans) don’t want to hear that, but it is the Big Ten that set up head-to-head results to be so important, and nobody complained about that.  If they wanted BCS rankings to trump the results on the field, the Big Ten should have made the BCS rankings the first tie-breaker.  Then the current situation would make sense.  Instead, we end up with a mixed message.  Head-to-head results are most important, but we’ll ignore them in this case.

The Big 12 and its tiebreaker rules, have a much easier situation to deal with this year.  Since all three teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M) are in the same division, they are all guaranteed to play each other.  However, there is still the chance of all three having the same conference record and one win over the others, which is the case this year.   Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State.  Oklahoma State beat Texas A&M.  Texas A&M beat Oklahoma.  They all have 6-2 records in conference.  It would be up to the BCS to solve the problem, except that Texas A&M has on out-of-conference loss (Arkansas), so the Aggies’ overall record knocks them out of the title game (section b.1).  That leaves Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and RIGHTFULLY leaves the decision to the head-to-head results.  That sends Oklahoma to the title game.   The BCS has nothing to do with the Big 12 this year as some sources are reporting, although it did in 2008 when Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech tied and forced the Big 12 to resort to the BCS rankings as well.

If you’re reading this column, you likely know the importance of polls and rankings.  However, there are still many who think they only affect two teams at the end of the season… the ones going to the BCS Championship.  It is up to us to help people understand that there is so much more at stake for many teams, throughout the whole season.  That’s why Pollspeak exists.  Mistakes (or corruption) in the polls can potentially cost schools millions of dollars, and can cause fans immeasurable frustration.

Before I close, let me express the frustration of Nevada fans.  They just beat Boise State in one of the WAC’s most publicized upsets.  Technically, the Wolf Pack also has a better record than Boise State; yet they are ranked below the Broncos in every human poll.  In the AP, 34 out of 60 voters still ranked Boise State higher.  Yes, it was a home game for Nevada, and it was a close, overtime win, but that doesn’t excuse Robert Cessna from ranking Nevada 11 spots below Boise State.  He actually has Nevada ranked the same spot as the week before.  Man, that’s just biased.  That’s biased, man.

  •  
Comments

Since: Nov 17, 2007
Posted on: December 4, 2010 2:23 am
 

Man, Thatís Just Mean

Every team that wins is just plain lucky.

MSU is the only team where such luck should be held against them.

OSU had to come from behind to beat Iowa and almost didn't. But hey, that wasn't luck at all.

Laughing



Since: Sep 30, 2008
Posted on: December 3, 2010 5:02 pm
 

Man, Thatís Just Mean

Sorry Pollspeak, that's a pretty weak argument.  What you're arguing is no longer head to head because two didn't play.  You can't go that way...you still haven't addressed the comments that say that tOSU could say the same thing using Iowa over MSU.  The reason you can't address it is because your arguments are seriously flawed.  One could also argue that Michigan State is the only one weak enough to lose to a team that's not even at the top of the conference.

As far as MSU being screwed because they started lower in the polls, that's simply not true.  TCU started higher than Oregon and Auburn.  The reason MSU is left out is because all the humans saw a team lucky to win too many games.  I'll give you the Wisconsin game...but that was also early before Wisconsin really settled into their game (ASU almost beat them too!).  Trick play to beat a bad ND team, barely eeking out a victory against Purdue.  Seriously, they rarely, if ever, looked dominant this year.  If you're going to argue that they're better or more deserving than tOSU because of one common opponent, here's a list of other common opponents that works the other way:  Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State. 



Since: Nov 7, 2010
Posted on: December 3, 2010 1:56 pm
 

Man, Thatís Just Mean

What sucks in the three way tie is that essentially everything comes down to where the teams were ranked before they ever played a game. Both Wiscy and the Buckeyes were highly ranked at the start where as MSU weren't ranked at all.  Mich State had a lot further to travel up and just found that stretch a little too much.  I don't understand why there are any rankings at all until a few games into the season - lets say 4.  Then  all the voters would have had a chance to see the teams and make an informed judgement rather than a wild guess because of last years finishing point and the number and quality of returners.
All things being equal you have to start with MSU beat Wiscy who beat Ohio.  MSU to the Rose bowl Wiscy to the BCS and Ohio lose out and face Bama in the Capitol 1 bowl.
Of course the thing that is really poor is the way the BCS is organised at all.  Why shouldn't all 3 go to the BCS ? All 3 are good enough.  But the rules say only 2 go and so we have a top 10 team in MSU not playing in the BCS and a team like UConn or West Virginia probably will play in the BCS as Big Least champs even though they aren't even ranked.Whatever way you look at it one of the three Big Ten champs are going to get shafted and it's probably Mich State.



Since: Nov 17, 2007
Posted on: December 2, 2010 11:43 am
 

Man, Thatís Just Mean

It all comes down to this.

Ohio State started at No. 2 in the pre-season. Wisconsin started at No. 12. Michigan State was not ranked.

Wisconsin has a 7-game winning streak with its only loss to MSU 24-34. MSU is 11-1, BCS No. 8.
Ohio State has a 5-game winning streak with its only loss to UW 18-31. UW is 11-1, BCS No. 5.
Michigan State has a 3-game winning streak with its only loss to Iowa 6-37. Iowa is 7-5, not ranked.

Michigan State started the season unranked. Strike 1.
Michigan State has the most recent loss of the 3 teams. Strike 2.
Michigan State lost to the lowest ranked team with the worst record by the largest margin of victory of the 3. Strike 3.

That MSU played the hardest SOS is true.
That MSU played and beat more bowl eligiable teams is also true.
That MSU scrapped and fought its way to climb the furthest is also true. UW also climbed. OSU fell.
The MSU had a (school) record setting season is also true.

The real point is that the Big Ten tie-breaker rules only apply to the Big Ten's automatic bid to the Rose Bowl.

There are no rules forcing the selection of 1 BCS eligible Big Ten team over another for the at large bid. The Argument thus becomes.

OSU, 11-1, BCS No. 6, 6-1 versus bowl eligible teams, 0-1 versus BCS qualified teams.
MSU, 11-1, BCS No. 8, 7-1 versus bowl eligible teams, 1-0 versus BCS qualified teams.

So, it is the bottom of the 9th; Spartans at bat, down by 1 with 2 outs and a man on 3rd.



Since: Jul 8, 2008
Posted on: November 30, 2010 1:46 am
 

Man, Thatís Just Mean

"As for the Big Ten, they are the only ones making the assumptions here.  I’m using direct results…with no assumptions.  I’m not saying Michigan State would beat Ohio State.  That’s not my point.  My point is to break a tie in a conference that doesn’t have divisions (this year) and doesn’t have everybody play.  I’m saying Ohio State wasn’t given the chance to prove they can beat Michigan State, so Ohio State should be the one left out.  (Just like an undefeated team that doesn’t play in the BCS Championship game doesn’t get to be BCS champion.)  Instead, the Big Ten is punishing the team at the top of the head-to-head chain … the only team that proved it on the field.  That is a fact.  The Big Ten is going with the ASSUMPTION that Ohio State is better than Michigan State because the voters say so."

Here's the argument I give about Ohio State...  Don't they have every right to say they're just as good as MSU?  If MSU is saying "we beat Wisconsin, who beat Ohio," can't Ohio say, "We beat Iowa, who beat MSU."  You simply cannot eliminate one because Iowa isn't a co-Big Ten champ, it makes absolutely no sense...  I'm almost 100% sure that there is no sport that determines tiebreakers in the way that you suggest, because it simply makes no sense.

Btw, here is the rule for a 3 way tie in the Big Ten, from bigten.org

  1. If more than two teams tie for the championship, the same selection procedures shall be followed with the following exceptions:
  2. If three teams are tied, and if one team defeated both of the other teams, then that team shall be the representative.
  3. If three teams are still tied, and if two of the three teams defeated the third team, the third team is eliminated, and the remaining two teams shall revert to the two-team tie procedure.
  4. If three teams are still tied, and there is a tie game between two of the three teams, or if two or all three of the teams did not play each other, the representative shall be determined on a percentage basis of all games played.
  5. If three teams are still tied, and one of the three teams is eliminated through the percentage basis of all games played, the remaining two teams shall revert to the two-team tie procedure.
  6. If three teams are still tied, and all three teams have the same winning percentage of all games played, the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings shall be the representative.

Obviously 2 is thrown out, no one beat the other two.
3 is out, no team lost to the other two.
4 is still a tie since no one lost out of conference.
5 is actually an extension of 4.
Which goes to 6 BCS standings.

I would have liked there to be another one after winning percentage, which is used a lot in other sports, record against common opponents.  Which would have put Wisconsin and Ohio at 4-0 in common opponents, and MSU at 3-1, eliminating them and sending Ohio and Wisconsin to the 2 team tie break procedure which the first one is head to head matchup, which would send Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl




Since: Oct 26, 2007
Posted on: November 29, 2010 3:25 pm
 

Man, Thatís Just Mean

The Big Ten determined that head-to-head results take priority over BCS rankings. 

 

Based on head-to-head results I can say that:

 

  • Michigan State beat Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin beat Ohio State

 

Everything else is speculation.  I can’t say Michigan State would beat Ohio State or vice versa.  Therefore Michigan State vs. Ohio State is left out of the equation, and Michigan State wins the tiebreaker with Wisconsin.

 

It doesn’t make sense that the winner of the game is left out only because the Big Ten chose not to have Michigan State play a third party (Ohio State).  Ohio State didn’t beat either team.  They should be the team left out.




Since: Jul 8, 2008
Posted on: November 29, 2010 3:15 pm
 

Man, Thatís Just Mean

Seriously, why is everyone that favors MSU because of 'head to head' incapable of seeing that that is not how it works.  By that logic Ohio State has every right to say, "We beat Iowa, and you got crushed by them.  Our only loss came against a good Wisconsin team, therefore our team is better."



Since: Mar 16, 2008
Posted on: November 29, 2010 2:06 pm
 

Man, Thatís Just Mean

"...the rules incorrectly throw out the head-to-head results when an extra team gets added to the mix, but when they don’t all play each other. "

I disagree.  Part of the reason this is so important is the effect of home-field advantage.  To have a truly fair head-to-head situation, Ohio St. would need a home game against Michigan St., in which the Buckeyes would undoubtedly be favored.  We can't simply use a transitive property as a tiebreaker.  Just becaust Michigan St. beat Wisconsin (in East Lansing) and Wisconsin beat Ohio St. (in Madison), this does not imply Michigan St. > Ohio St.  The Badgers beat the Hawkeyes (in Iowa), while Michigan St. got slaughtered by the Hawkeyes (also in Iowa).  Does this imply Wisky > Iowa > Michigan St.?

This is simply flawed logic.  Just because two teams have the same record and one has beaten the other (i.e. Nevada and Boise St.) it doesn't follow that the winner of the head-to-heada matchup must automatically be ranked higher than loser, especially when the winner won at home.  Homefield is such a powerful factor at the college level.  Instead, if you take a look at the schedule and the quality of wins you'll see that Wisconsin's body of work is consistantly and significantly better than Michigan St.'s, while Boise St. is consistantly and significantly better than Nevada.

I don't mean this as a slight to Michigan St. or Nevada.  Michigan St. should definitely feel robbed that they had such a great season and will likely miss out on a BCS bowl.  They are having a phenominal year, and getting shafted is a tough pill to swallow.  Still, the tiebreaker is fair, and WI is the highest ranked team in the Big Ten for good reasons.



Since: Oct 26, 2007
Posted on: November 29, 2010 12:22 pm
 

Man, Thatís Just Mean

The Big 12 needs to reword b.1 if that is the case.  It currently says:  "The records of the three teams will be compared against each other."  The way you describe it doesn't help the situation much.  If they mean that head-to-head results will be used as the first tiebreaker, they should specifically say that.  Luckily, this year, the outcome is the same either way.  I will follow up with the Big 12.

As for the Big Ten, they are the only ones making the assumptions here.  I’m using direct results…with no assumptions.  I’m not saying Michigan State would beat Ohio State.  That’s not my point.  My point is to break a tie in a conference that doesn’t have divisions (this year) and doesn’t have everybody play.  I’m saying Ohio State wasn’t given the chance to prove they can beat Michigan State, so Ohio State should be the one left out.  (Just like an undefeated team that doesn’t play in the BCS Championship game doesn’t get to be BCS champion.)  Instead, the Big Ten is punishing the team at the top of the head-to-head chain … the only team that proved it on the field.  That is a fact.  The Big Ten is going with the ASSUMPTION that Ohio State is better than Michigan State because the voters say so.




Since: Nov 29, 2010
Posted on: November 29, 2010 10:38 am
 

Man, Thatís Just Mean

You are wrong about the Big 12 this year.  The tiebreaker rule b1 that you are using to eliminate Texas A&M is not overall record but only the record between the 3 schools.  This is the round-robin rule that you have mentioned where each team was 1-1 against the other 2 teams.  If you follow the rules down, you will have the 3 teams remain tied until you get to the BCS standings rule in which, this year, Oklahoma wins and represents the Big 12 south in the championship against Nebraska.

While I do agree that you should use head-to-head as the first tie-breaker for a 3 team tie, you can only legitimately use that if all 3 teams played each other; I would not be an advocate of using it in the way that you are implying in this blog - MSU beat Wisconsin, Wisconsin beat OSU so MSU wins without having played OSU.  You are making a big assumption that this proves OSU wouldn't beat MSU and that, as we have seen many times isn't true - many scenarios (such as this year's Big 12 South) exist where there is a 3 team round-robin.  All don't play each other?  Don't use as tie-breaker.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com