Tag:Boise State
Posted on: November 8, 2010 12:44 pm
 

BCS computers should not use margin-of-victory

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

What would you say about a Coaches' Poll voter who looked over the college football landscape after Saturday's action and ranked Auburn , undefeated and owner of more top 25 wins than any team in the country, all the way down at No. 11? What would you say if he voted four different teams with two losses ahead of the Tigers, including a Missouri team coming off of a loss to Texas Tech and an Arizona team that lost at home to 4-4 Oregon State ? What would you say if he kept Alabama all the way up at No. 5, ahead of not only the Auburn team two games ahead of it in the SEC West standings but 12 spots ahead of the 8-1 LSU team that just beat it head-to-head?

What you would say is that this voter had lost his damn mind and deserved to have his voting privileges revoked. You would say he deserved no part in a BCS process where so, so much is riding on every ballot. And you would be right.

Then why do so many college football analysts, fans, and statisticians insist that the six computer rankings that enter into the BCS formula -- each of which carries far, far more weight than any single Coaches' Poll or Harris Poll ballot -- be allowed to use margin-of-victory as part of their calculations? Because the hypothetical ballot above is exactly what the computers would spit out; it's the current "Predictor" rankings as produced by ratings guru Jeff Sagarin , where margin-of-victory is all-important and straight wins and losses irrelevant. Sagarin has stated unequivocally that he would prefer submitting the "Predictor" rating to the BCS-mandated margin-of-victory-ignoring "ELO_Chess," for the reasons laid out here by fellow BCS computer rater Kenneth Massey and baseball statistical godfather Bill James :

“You’re asked to rank teams that don’t play each other, that don’t play long seasons, and you can’t include margin of victory?” said Massey, who provides a “better version” on his Web site, masseyratings.com . “It’s a very challenging problem from a data-analysis standpoint. It does require sacrificing a bit of accuracy. It’s not the best way to do it" ... 

“This isn’t a sincere effort to use math to find the answer at all" [according to James.] It’s clearly an effort to use math as a cover for whatever you want to do. I don’t even know if the people who set up the system are aware of that.

“It’s just nonsense math.”

Maybe the math is nonsense. But shouldn't that be weighed against the fact that to virtually everyone else who follows college football, ranking Alabama ahead of LSU is an act of even greater nonsense?

The problem is that ratings system like  the Sagarin "Predictor" and Massey's preferred system (which also ranks the Tide over the Bayou Bengals) aren't even trying to do the same things the BCS rankings are attempting to do. Their goal is to identify which teams are the "best," the most powerful, the most likely to win a given matchup; as its name implies, what "Predictor" wants to do is forecast the future, and there's no doubt it would do a better job of this than "ELO_Chess."

But certain unfortunate tiebreaks (like TCU 's and Boise State 's current predicament) excepted, BCS berths aren't awarded on the basis of hypothetical future results, or guesses at perceived strengths. They're awarded on the basis of achievement, on wins and losses and conference championships. Including margin-of-victory may make the BCS computer rankings "more accurate" when it comes to selecting which teams are playing the best football, but it would make them less accurate when it comes to answering the question the BCS rankings are trying to answer: which teams are most deserving .

That ought to be cause enough to keep the rankings margin-of-victory-free, even before we start wondering whether we really want the BCS nodding in approval as Boise desperately tries to hit the century mark week-in and week-out on the San Jose State s and Wyoming s of the world. (Not to mention it's already a shame when a player injures himself in a game that's well in hand; what happens when LaMichael James or Justin Blackmon tears an ACL trying to tack on a computer-mandated score at the end of a 60-7 blowout?) No, it's not particularly fair for TCU's annihilation of Utah to go in the BCS computers' books as nothing more than a W. But as the Horned Frogs' jump up the human polls shows, it's simply not true to say the BCS doesn't take the impressiveness of their victory into account at all.

The bottom line is that by including scoring margin (even one capped at, say, three touchdowns) in their computer rankings, the BCS would officially declare every win numerically judged like a figure skating routine, would give the thumbs-up to coaches like Bob Stoops who'd prefer to quit on a potential win over risking an embarrassing loss, would agree with "Predictor" that Alabama beating Duke by 49 points is more important than LSU beating Alabama by 3. The computer rankings could be better, but the way forward isn't to open a Pandora's box that college football would be much the worse for having opened.

Posted on: November 6, 2010 7:41 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2010 8:19 pm
 

LSU eliminates Alabama from BCS chase

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The near-universal consensus was that if any one-loss team could leapfrog TCU and Boise State no matter how many points the non-AQ powers piled up on the weak sisters of the Mountain West and WAC (noting that that description does not apply to their overwhelmed victims this afternoon), it was Alabama , the FBS's most-recognized gold standard, lurking dangerously at one loss with several potential computer-friendly victims ahead.

The problem: the first victim on the list wasn't interested in the Tide's own-destiny-controlled narrative. LSU rebounded from a sluggish, wasteful first half to punish the vaunted Alabama defense in the second half, recording 20 points, a whopping 338 total yards, and an all-important game-clinching 3rd-and-13 conversion to win 24-21 . Take your pick as the bigger surprise: that behind an offensive line that blasted open hole after hole in the 'Bama front seven, the LSU ground game churned out 225 yards on 5 yards a carry; or that much-derided LSU quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee emerged as the players of the game, combining to go an efficient 14-of-20 for 204 yards, a touchdown, and -- most importantly given the hay LSU was making on the ground -- no interceptions. Lee's throw to Rueben Randle on the icing conversion was as clutch as delivery as you'll see this year.

But maybe more surprising than either of those developments is that after two full seasons with the Tide as an undefeated, implacable, omnipresent presence in the thick of the national championship discussion, the Tide will not have a say this year, except as a possible spoiler for their rivals at Auburn . Even the clout of the SEC will not push a two-loss champion into the BCS title game, not with the Horned Frogs and Broncos running rampant (and looking unlikely to do anything different down the home stretch). Both the Tide and Bayou Bengals stay alive for the SEC West championship (though both will need an upset win from Georgia on their trip to Auburn next week, among other results in 'Bama's case), and LSU can continue to harbor longshot BCS hopes, but a Sugar Bowl date is now the best-case scenario for the Tide ... leaving an unmistakable crimson-shaded hole in the national title race.

Les Miles ... your thoughts?



Posted on: November 5, 2010 8:45 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 8:51 pm
 

Insane Predictions, Week 10

Posted by College Football Blog staff

Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that Baylor would ride a huge performance by Robert Griffin to upset Texas OH WAIT JERRY HINNEN NAILED THAT. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever. As you can tell.

Highly Unlikely

Missouri finds itself in some trouble during the second half of their game against Texas Tech.  It seems Tommy Tuberville finally has things working on both offense and defense as the Red Raiders hold a 10-6 lead midway through the third quarter.  It's Missouri ball when Blaine Gabbert finally has the Missouri offense moving for the first time all day.  Then, facing a first and 10 at the Tech 17-yard line, a blitzing linebacker comes free on Gabbert's blindside and levels him. Gabbert coughs up the ball, it's scooped up by the Raiders, and taken back for a touchdown.  Gabbert gets happy feet for the rest of the game, short-arms every pass at his receivers' feet, and Mizzou never recovers.  Texas Tech goes on to win 20-13. -- Tom Fornelli

Severely Unlikely

Hawaii, feeling unusually frisky after beating Army and thumping Fresno State and Utah State all on the mainland, comes out for their game at Boise State wearing black leather Mad Max-inspired "(Road) Warriors" uniforms, complete with body armor and small spikes on their helmets. As a result, their pregame haka comes across as even more threatening and unnerving than usual, and the rattled Broncos wind up mostly standing around and watching as Bryant Moniz and Greg Salas connect for four first-half touchdowns and a 28-10 (Road) Warrior lead. Unfortunately, at halftime the officials convene and after a close perusal of the rulebook, declare Hawaii's uniforms totally illegal. The (Road) Warriors are told to either change uniforms or forfeit the game. They opt to simply go without uniforms, taking the field in pads, shirts, shorts, and cleats. The Broncos, unfortunately (for them), are nearly as unnerved by this as the Mad Max look, and fall behind 42-13 before a furious rally falls short, 42-41, handing Boise their first loss on the blue turf since, somewhat ironically, the last year Mel Gibson was considered cool. -- Jerry Hinnen

Well That's Just Absurd

Illinois storms into the Big House and Ron Zook continues his Zooker Redemption Tour with a 45-10 shellacking of the Michigan Wolverines. A wearied Rich Rodriguez answers a few questions at his post-game news conference before a familiar face stands up to ask a question. Why, it's Michigan athletic director David Brandon! Much to the annoyance of the collected media personnel, Brandon lobs a softball by asking Rodriguez to comment on his recent exoneration by the NCAA, which RichRod dutifully answers with the usual vague but positive coachspeak. At that point, Brandon responds that he doesn't actually care about the report, and that Rodriguez is fired, effective as of five minutes ago. RichRod exhales for the first time in three years. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson is installed as interim head coach, but only so Brandon can have the pleasure of firing a coach and his successor in the same day; Robinson's tenure at Michigan ends seconds after it begins. Brandon then announces Jim Harbaugh as the next Michigan football head coach ... which comes as a total surprise to Harbaugh, who must then face the awkward task of declining the offer on account of his Stanford team's season not being even close to over. USC coach Lane Kiffin volunteers for the job instead, surprising nobody, and promises at his hiring the next day to "stay in North Arbor for years. That's what the 'N' in 'N. Arbor' means, right? North?" Michigan fans strain to avoid crying in public. -- Adam Jacobi

Posted on: November 4, 2010 11:17 pm
 

NCAA Lesson Plan, Week 10

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here are the main story lines to keep your eyes on in Week 10. You will be graded on this. Eyes on your own paper.

Who's the class of the Mountain West? For all the consternation caused by TCU jumping Boise State in the BCS rankings this past weekend, the real drama happens this Saturday at 3:30 on CBS College Sports, when TCU faces fellow unbeaten conference member Utah in a pivotal game that may have national championship implications. After all, if Utah beats TCU but doesn't hop Boise State in the BCS rankings, the Utes would be right to question why that'd be the case. If TCU wins and wins out, though, Boise State's national title hopes are effectively over regardless of the Broncos' undefeated record for the second year in a row.

And past the implications, it should be a really interesting game to watch; these two teams are some of the best-coached, toughest squads in all of college football, "non-AQ" label be damned. TCU quarterback Andy Dalton is having another stellar season, and the Utes are tied for third in scoring offense this season. Oh, and both defenses are in the top six in both scoring defense and total defense ; TCU in particular hasn't even given up more than seven points in a game since September. Something's gotta give ... right?

Will the SEC races be over? The key SEC matchup this week -- almost by default, considering the glut of non-conference games there on Saturday -- is certainly No. 5 Alabama at No. 12 LSU , at 3:30 on CBS. Both teams are 7-1 and ready to make a push for, at the very least, an at-large BCS bid. But here's the thing: if LSU wins, the SEC West is basically over; Auburn would have to lose to both Alabama and Georgia the week prior for LSU to take the division title. Let's at least wait for Cam Newton to be declared ineligible first.

Meanwhile, No. 17 South Carolina could take a commanding lead in the SEC East... or all hell could break loose. Again. The Gamecocks travel to Fayetteville to put their 4-2 conference record on the line against No. 16 Arkansas . If the Gamecocks pull off the win and Florida drops their game against Vanderbilt (tell us it can't happen; go on, tell us.), SC takes the SEC West just like that. It could , technically, happen.

Will off-field distractions doom top teams? So undefeated No. 2 Boise State 's out of the national championship picture the way things look now, and it hosts a surprising 7-2 Hawaii . Drama?? No. 3 Auburn faces 5-3 Chattanooga , possibly without Cam Newton. And OK, technically, the Mocs are an FCS team, but still: intrigue??? Even No. 7 Wisconsin faces plucky Purdue , and Wisconsin has to deal with this blog that clearly makes fun of it and its fans. Chicanery???? Look for all three of these ranked teams to lose by at least 20 points this week as their worlds crash down around them.

Posted on: November 4, 2010 11:17 pm
 

NCAA Lesson Plan, Week 10

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here are the main story lines to keep your eyes on in Week 10. You will be graded on this. Eyes on your own paper.

Who's the class of the Mountain West? For all the consternation caused by TCU jumping Boise State in the BCS rankings this past weekend, the real drama happens this Saturday at 3:30 on CBS College Sports, when TCU faces fellow unbeaten conference member Utah in a pivotal game that may have national championship implications. After all, if Utah beats TCU but doesn't hop Boise State in the BCS rankings, the Utes would be right to question why that'd be the case. If TCU wins and wins out, though, Boise State's national title hopes are effectively over regardless of the Broncos' undefeated record for the second year in a row.

And past the implications, it should be a really interesting game to watch; these two teams are some of the best-coached, toughest squads in all of college football, "non-AQ" label be damned. TCU quarterback Andy Dalton is having another stellar season, and the Utes are tied for third in scoring offense this season. Oh, and both defenses are in the top six in both scoring defense and total defense ; TCU in particular hasn't even given up more than seven points in a game since September. Something's gotta give ... right?

Will the SEC races be over? The key SEC matchup this week -- almost by default, considering the glut of non-conference games there on Saturday -- is certainly No. 5 Alabama at No. 12 LSU , at 3:30 on CBS. Both teams are 7-1 and ready to make a push for, at the very least, an at-large BCS bid. But here's the thing: if LSU wins, the SEC West is basically over; Auburn would have to lose to both Alabama and Georgia the week prior for LSU to take the division title. Let's at least wait for Cam Newton to be declared ineligible first.

Meanwhile, No. 17 South Carolina could take a commanding lead in the SEC East... or all hell could break loose. Again. The Gamecocks travel to Fayetteville to put their 4-2 conference record on the line against No. 16 Arkansas . If the Gamecocks pull off the win and Florida drops their game against Vanderbilt (tell us it can't happen; go on, tell us.), SC takes the SEC West just like that. It could , technically, happen.

Will off-field distractions doom top teams? So undefeated No. 2 Boise State 's out of the national championship picture the way things look now, and it hosts a surprising 7-2 Hawaii . Drama?? No. 3 Auburn faces 5-3 Chattanooga , possibly without Cam Newton. And OK, technically, the Mocs are an FCS team, but still: intrigue??? Even No. 7 Wisconsin faces plucky Purdue , and Wisconsin has to deal with this blog that clearly makes fun of it and its fans. Chicanery???? Look for all three of these ranked teams to lose by at least 20 points this week as their worlds crash down around them.

Posted on: November 4, 2010 2:11 pm
 

Utah A.G. looking for federal help in BCS suit

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff has been gearing up for an antitrust lawsuit aimed at bringing down the Bowl Championship Series for quite some time now, and this week he made his pitch to what could prove to be a very powerful friend in his fight against the BCS: the U.S. Justice Department. The administration of president Barack Obama --- who of course famously stated that he would support a playoff in college football -- has already been mulling over an investigation into the fairness of the BCS system. If Shurtleff has his way, that mulling over will become action and the BCS could be facing federal antitrust violations.

But as this report from the Salt Lake Tribune helps illustrate, if Shurtleff doesn't get federal help, the lawsuit will likely never get off the ground. Finding the funding to bring such a high-profile suit is proving to be difficult:

 

Shurtleff said Utah couldn’t cover the costs of the litigation on its own, which is why he has repeatedly reached out to attorneys general from other states and sent a detailed legal brief to the Justice Department six months ago.

He believes the Justice Department would be in a better position to push the issues because AGs from around the nation often represent the major universities in their states and it is the college presidents who make up the BCS.

“Potentially the defendants are your own clients,” Shurtleff said.

Further, the climate for pursuing such a case is growing harsher by the day. Shurtleff first began his crusade in the wake of his home-state Utah program getting shut out of title consideration after their undefeated 2008 run, but since then the Utes have become part of the BCS's landed gentry themselves by accepting a Pac-12 invitation; his constituency may not support his cause with the fervor they once did, another reason he may need the support of the Justic Department.

Beyond that, with both Boise State and the winner of Saturday's mega-clash between Utah and TCU highly likely to play in BCS bowls (and reap BCS cash) this season, non-AQ access to the BCS has never been greater. Shurtleff claims of a potential non-AQ team playing in the national game that ...

“There is no scenario whatsoever where it can happen under the current regime,” he said. “It can not happen.”
But this is simply, patently false; a scenario in which Oregon loses or the SEC champion has two losses could do the trick before the year is out.

Should the Ducks win out and either undefeated Auburn or a one-loss Alabama squeeze the unblemished Broncos, Frogs, or Utes out of the title game, Shurtleff will have a point. It will not be fair to continue to reward perfect seasons by established non-AQ powers with seats at the metaphorical kiddie table. But fair or not, neither the political climate nor the climate surrounding college football seems conducive right now to forcing BCS change at the point of a knife.

HT: GTP .

 


Posted on: November 3, 2010 2:05 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:06 pm
 

Minnesota is shooting for the stars

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Halloween was four days ago, but it seems that Minnesota refuses to take off it's costume.  It decided to dress up as a big-time football program this year, and go from coach's door to coach's door offering each one the opportunity to take over for Tim Brewster.

So far in the Minnesota coaching search we've heard some big names.  Guys like Tony Dungy, Mike Leach and Phillip Fulmer have all been mentioned as possible targets for the Gophers.  Well, while it is somewhat delusional for Minnesota to think that it's the type of school that a coach would view as a step forward in their career, the Gophers want you to know that we've only seen the beginning of their delusions.

According to a report in the Pioneer Press, the Gophers have three other targets atop their list.

At least the University of Minnesota is shooting high in its quest for a new football coach.

A little birdie says the Gophers have targeted, in order of priority, Boise State's Chris Petersen, Stanford's Jim Harbaugh and Texas Christian's Gary Patterson to replace the fired Tim Brewster.

It seems unlikely any of the trio would leave what he has built for a gigantic rebuilding challenge at Minnesota.
Look, everyone!  Minnesota thinks it's people!

Seriously, while I admire Minnesota shooting for the stars in its search for a new coach, who exactly is it trying to kid here?  Chris Petersen is at a program like Boise State that doesn't seem to have much in its way to a BCS bowl game every season, and if he chose to leave Idaho, he'd have his choice of just about any program in the country with an opening.

Why would he choose Minnesota?

Then you have Jim Harbaugh, who might be looking to leave Stanford for a job in the Big Ten, but that job is in Ann Arbor, not Minneapolis.

Gary Patterson is in much the same boat as Peterson, but it's possible that TCU could be moving to the Big East in the future, which would basically be a guaranteed trip to a BCS game every season as well.  Plus, Minnesota considered Patterson before hiring Brewster, and he wasn't all that interested then, so why would he be now?

I get why Minnesota is going this route.  First of all, you never really know.  If they drive up to one of these coaches homes with a Brinks truck full of cash, someone might just say yes.  It also looks good to the fan base that the school can say they tried to land the big name coach.

But it's not going to happen.

Posted on: November 2, 2010 7:27 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2010 7:31 pm
 

Boise State is big loser if TCU bolts to Big East

Posted by Adam Jacobi

If recent rumors are to be believed -- and there's no indication that they're overblown -- one of the two teams that will be joining the Big East's football conference is TCU. If that turns out to be true, that's seriously bad news for the Mountain West, and in particular, Boise State.

Consider this: Boise State has been limited for years by the creampuff-soft level of competition in the WAC when it comes to building a championship-level resume. Some would argue that such a comically easy slate of opponents has also been instrumental in getting Boise State to perennial double-digit wins in the first place, and that argument certainly has some merit, but it seems pretty clear that Boise knows its chances of playing for a national title are greatly enhanced when it plays real competition on a more regular basis. Hence, their move to the Mountain West.

That Mountain West, by the way, has certainly seemed like a more plausible candidate for an automatic BCS bid than, say, the Big East over the past few seasons. Adding another high-caliber football program like the Broncos would have likely sealed the conference's (and Boise's) reputation as unassailable, and shifted the balance of power in college football west.

Alas, that Mountain West will never exist. Just days after Boise State announced their intentions to head to the MWC, Utah accepted an invitation to join the Pac-10, which was sort of expected even beforehand. BYU announced its intentions to go independent in 2011 some months later, and now TCU's likely headed east. Replacing these three teams, then, will be Boise State... and Fresno State and Nevada. WAC, WAC, and WAC.

Indeed, by the time these moves all get made, the Mountain West won't look like a new power conference at all; if anything, it'll just be the WAC 2.0, but with fewer trips to Honolulu and more to Las Vegas. Hey, win some, lose some. But a conference led by Boise, Fresno State, and Nevada didn't get a sniff from the BCS Committee when it comes to awarding an automatic BCS bid (and guaranteeing BCS money), and it won't this time around either. Boise State's strength of schedule will still continue to suffer, and the Bronco faithful will still be left calling for a playoff when their team dominates and isn't granted a shot at the national title. That cannot possibly be what Boise State had in mind when they announced plans to join the Mountain West just five months ago.

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