Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Jan 2010

Final 2009 FEI Ratings

by Brian Fremeau

The 2009 college football season came to a mostly anticlimactic close, leaving nearly everyone outside of Tuscaloosa wanting more. As Colt McCoy fought back tears in the aftermath of having to sit out most of the BCS title game, fans across Texas and the rest of the country felt as though they had also been robbed of what might have been a once-in-a-lifetime game. Boise State, meanwhile, was watching at home like the rest of us, having completed their own undefeated season only a few days earlier -- and wondering. How might the final game have played out had McCoy’s arm not fallen limp in the first quarter? How might Alabama have handled a trick-play momentum swing from the underdog Broncos if given the chance? How might a season-ending playoff involving a half-dozen or more teams in addition to Alabama and Texas have played out?

I’ve been wondering as well. What can we make of a season in which 12 percent of games were played between FBS and FCS teams? Do we have enough information to discuss Alabama in historic terms when the SEC lined up against FCS body bag opposition (11 games) more often than it did against the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-10 combined (10 games, including five bowls)?

On the other hand, Alabama certainly did almost anything you could ask of a team ranked No. 1. The first undefeated national champion in four years, Alabama handed two opponents (Florida and Texas) their only loss of the year. The Crimson Tide boasted a smothering defense ranked second only to Florida’s 2008 defense in DFEI over the last three years. Even the Alabama offense dominated a game unlike any other in college football this year -- it didn’t come in the finale, but the victory over the Gators in the SEC championship was about as powerful a single-game statement as any national champion has made this decade.

Alabama knocked off the FEI No. 2, No. 3, and No. 6 teams in 2009. The 2005 Texas Longhorns are still the only FEI No. 1 team since 2003 to have played the FEI No. 2 team in the championship game, and they are also the only other FEI team along with this year’s Alabama squad to have defeated both No. 2 and No. 3 in their championship year. The order of events was much more satisfying in 2005, but the overall resumes and FEI ratings of Alabama this year and Texas four years ago are neck and neck.

FEI No. 1 Teams since 2003
Year Team FBS
W-L
FEI SOS SOS
Year Rk
2004 USC 13-0 0.359 0.088 16
2008 Florida 12-1 0.356 0.140 27
2005 Texas 13-0 0.342 0.136 28
2009 Alabama 13-0 0.342 0.089 12
2006 Florida 12-1 0.320 0.065 9
2003 LSU 12-1 0.288 0.169 27
2007 LSU 12-2 0.283 0.125 22

There’s no denying that Alabama ultimately played a very strong top-end schedule, with games against top-10 teams in Virginia Tech, Florida and Texas. FEI is in agreement, but ranks those three teams in a much less intuitive manner than the polls.

Texas finished as a runner-up in the national championship, outdueled Alabama with a backup quarterback for significant stretches of the game, and its FEI consolation prize is a No. 6 rating. Even a game against the nation’s best didn’t push Texas’ strength of schedule very far into the black. Why no love? Including the title game, the Longhorns only played four FEI top-40 teams this season -- half as many as Alabama -- and fewer than every other FEI top-10 team save TCU, who also played four. The Longhorns were also merely good, not great, against Nebraska and Oklahoma. Texas had only one victory over a top-40 FEI opponent by more than a single score. Compare that to the teams ranked ahead of Texas -- Alabama (six), Florida (five), Virginia Tech (three), Ohio State (three), and Georgia Tech (one).

Replacing Texas in the No. 3 FEI position is Virginia Tech, victors in their bowl finale over Tennessee. The Hokies’ overall resume is solid (they are the highest ranked three-loss team in the major polls) but could only be considered extraordinary if you consider the ACC to be the home of the strongest upper tier in college football. For the second straight year, FEI seems to think so. Five ACC teams appear in the FEI top 15, three of which lost their bowl games. There are numerous reasons I’ve identified as to why this might be, but the limited testing I’ve done this season to correct the issue still hasn’t produced a superior set of ratings. I ran a set of ratings, for instance, that removed special teams and defensive scoring possessions from the equation -- areas that certain ACC teams excel at -- but even that seemed to bolster the ACC instead of knock the league down a few notches.

What does FEI find in the ACC that the other leagues can’t match? I think the answer actually can be found in only two or three games from earlier in the year. Wake Forest finished below .500 in the ACC but toppled Stanford. North Carolina State finished near the cellar in the ACC but also knocked off Pittsburgh. Florida State finished .500 in league play, but they also obliterated BYU in Provo this year. Among the other top conferences -- SEC, Big 12, Pac-10, Big Ten, Big East, and Mountain West -- the SEC is the only other league with any examples of a mid-to-lower level conference team defeating an upper-level, non-conference opponent. Those three non-conference victories by Wake Forest, N.C. State and Florida State are significant factors in the FEI algorithm. Whether they ought to be or not is another question.

And what can be made of Boise State’s rather uninspiring No. 16 FEI rating? They’re not the only team ranked behind two opponents they defeated in 2009, but the relative ratings of TCU, Oregon, and Boise State do seem to be askew. Yes, the Broncos defeated everyone they faced this year, and they deservedly have earned more recognition and respect nationally for that than the cold FEI formula is willing to grant them. But even with a strong opener (Oregon) and closer (TCU), the rest of Boise State’s schedule leaves a system like FEI in the dark. The Broncos played only two top-60 FEI teams this year. Only one team in college football, North Texas, played fewer. On average, the FEI top-10 played 9.2 top-60 FEI opponents apiece. When we’re discussing Boise State and Alabama’s resumes, apples and oranges doesn’t seem sufficient. It’s more like apples and elephants.

All of which might suggest that college football needs a playoff to settle such matters. I’ll reiterate my position and plea that playoff or no playoff, college football needs to add more regular season games first. There were 94 games played between FBS and FCS teams in 2009, 49 of which were played by FEI top-60 teams. That’s a scheduling problem that a playoff system might aggravate rather than solve. I’m not suggesting that Boise State is solely responsible for their own schedule, and I’m definitely not asking every team to add another juggernaut in place of a cupcake in the middle of the year. But we need more connectivity among teams, and reducing FCS games is a great place to start. I don’t know if NCAA legislation is the answer, if bowl eligibility rules need to be revisited, if TV contracts should focus on promoting more inter-conference clashes, or what.

But what would it take to get Boise State and South Carolina to play one another on October 10 instead of their respective body-bag opponents? What about Michigan State and Vanderbilt on September 5? Rutgers and Arizona on September 12? Penn State vs. North Carolina? Minnesota vs. Navy? Mississippi and TCU could have met on September 19 in what would have been the only SEC-Mountain West game of the entire year. Instead, those teams scored 108 points against Southeastern Louisiana and Texas State that day, and we’re left wondering.

I’ve read a fair amount of season postscript essays this week lamenting the end of a mostly forgettable and unsatisfying season. I didn’t think the season was completely devoid of drama and excitement, but I definitely agree with the sentiment that more college football would have been a great thing. It’s only been a few days since the final whistle blew in Pasadena, but I’m ready for 2010 to kick off now. See you all next season.

FEI 2009 Final Top 25

The principles of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) can be found here. Like DVOA, FEI rewards playing well against good teams, win or lose, and punishes losing to poor teams more harshly than it rewards defeating poor teams. Unlike DVOA, it is drive-based, not play-by-play based, and it is specifically engineered to measure the college game.

FEI is the opponent-adjusted value of Game Efficiency (GE), a measurement of the success rate of a team scoring and preventing opponent scoring throughout the non-garbage-time possessions of a game. Like DVOA, it represents a team's efficiency value over average. Strength of Schedule (SOS) is calculated as the likelihood that an elite team would win every game on the given team's schedule to date. SOS listed here does not include future games scheduled.

Only games between FBS teams are considered in the FEI calculations. Preseason projections are not a factor in the current calculations. Current FEI ratings are a function of results of games played through January 7th.

FEI ratings for all 120 FBS teams are now listed in the stats page section of FootballOutsiders.com. Click here for current ratings; the pull-down menu in the stats section directs you to 2007 and 2008 ratings.

Rank Team FBS
W-L
FEI Last
Wk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
OE OE
Rk
Off
FEI
OFEI
Rk
DE DE
Rk
Def
FEI
DFEI
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
1 Alabama 13-0 .342 1 .284 5 .089 12 .263 27 .508 6 -.654 2 -.699 1 .527 26
2 Florida 12-1 .290 2 .294 4 .105 15 .476 9 .439 9 -.436 11 -.409 16 .547 11
3 Virginia Tech 10-3 .255 6 .218 7 .087 10 .249 28 .378 12 -.432 14 -.431 14 .557 7
4 Ohio State 11-2 .240 9 .218 6 .206 44 .029 52 .238 24 -.633 4 -.610 3 .546 13
5 Georgia Tech 10-3 .237 7 .096 28 .087 11 .434 11 .638 1 .230 93 -.010 58 .507 53
6 Texas 13-1 .231 3 .309 2 .188 38 .339 20 .368 15 -.634 3 -.466 10 .552 9
7 Iowa 10-2 .225 11 .126 22 .129 20 -.158 85 .046 52 -.556 7 -.673 2 .511 44
8 TCU 11-1 .215 8 .305 3 .308 70 .194 31 .168 33 -.662 1 -.467 9 .562 5
9 Oregon 10-3 .203 4 .166 13 .154 27 .367 14 .468 7 -.287 24 -.295 22 .509 45
10 Miami 8-4 .202 10 .091 30 .089 13 .137 36 .314 18 -.172 35 -.384 18 .512 42
11 Pittsburgh 9-3 .200 15 .165 14 .329 73 .294 23 .325 17 -.121 42 -.270 26 .533 19
12 Penn State 10-2 .195 16 .209 9 .291 67 .201 30 .213 30 -.631 5 -.540 6 .515 37
Rank Team FBS
W-L
FEI Last
Wk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
OE OE
Rk
Off
FEI
OFEI
Rk
DE DE
Rk
Def
FEI
DFEI
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
13 Clemson 8-5 .190 19 .106 26 .118 19 -.012 61 .184 31 -.234 32 -.377 19 .547 12
14 Cincinnati 11-1 .181 5 .165 15 .175 33 .799 1 .547 4 .066 67 .003 60 .505 55
15 North Carolina 6-5 .180 25 .030 46 .087 9 -.254 93 .037 55 -.349 17 -.529 7 .480 84
16 Boise State 13-0 .179 18 .385 1 .511 104 .506 7 .067 49 -.482 9 -.404 17 .574 3
17 LSU 9-4 .165 17 .128 21 .046 4 -.098 75 .078 45 -.424 16 -.465 11 .537 15
18 Texas Tech 8-4 .162 21 .173 12 .222 51 .364 15 .425 10 -.345 18 -.223 31 .508 49
19 Stanford 8-5 .161 14 .125 23 .215 48 .487 8 .616 2 .357 102 .263 96 .563 4
20 Nebraska 10-4 .159 24 .211 8 .204 42 -.095 74 -.135 79 -.622 6 -.528 8 .555 8
21 Oklahoma 7-5 .157 22 .132 20 .159 28 .069 46 .046 51 -.512 8 -.605 4 .500 60
22 Wisconsin 9-3 .143 29 .112 25 .225 55 .372 13 .279 20 -.254 28 -.340 20 .488 77
23 USC 9-4 .142 20 .070 36 .131 23 .079 43 .295 19 -.248 29 -.233 30 .501 58
24 Florida State 6-6 .134 36 .002 57 .050 5 .283 24 .447 8 .538 114 .245 92 .538 14
25 Connecticut 7-5 .131 33 .081 33 .183 37 .088 41 .234 26 .091 73 .000 59 .561 6

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 12 Jan 2010

88 comments, Last at 16 Jan 2010, 3:14pm by Jeff Fogle

Comments

1
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 3:21pm

"when the SEC lined up against FCS body bag opposition (11 games) more often than it did against the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-10 combined (10 games, including five bowls)"

1. Nice leaving off the ACC in that figure.
2. How does this compare with other conferences?

You seem to contradict this statement later on with "the SEC is the only other league with any examples of a mid-to-lower level conference team defeating an upper-level, non-conference opponent." Perhaps the SEC schedules fewer, tougher BCS schools, which is looked more favorably than scheduling more, worse schools?

The closing argument is absolutely correct, that conferences need to cross-schedule more, but that is unlikely to happen without some serious revenue-sharing agreements, which the big schools are unlikely to be serious about.

2
by Brian Fremeau :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 3:45pm

I wasn't trying to pick on the SEC, just using it as an example of the scale of FCS games (that aren't very useful) relative to the pool of FBS opponents. The SEC is not unique -- the ACC played 14 FCS games.

3
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 4:04pm

I fully agree, but as long as the Presidents and ADs perceive that they'll get more money by winning games, they just aren't going to schedule games that assure 1 of them will "lose" money.

The slate of comperable games is clearly too low. Equitable revenue sharing between conferences is way better than this. Noob MWC is the Suxors!

26
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 8:30pm

but as long as the Presidents and ADs perceive that they'll get more money by winning games, they just aren't going to schedule games that assure 1 of them will "lose" money.

Bzzt. FCS schools don't ask for a home game in return, and don't ask for a share of gate receipts. In fact, FCS games do bring in less gross revenue to schools, but the net profit is higher. Whether or not the team 'wins' is immaterial.

Equitable revenue sharing between conferences

Equitable revenue sharing could actually decline the quality of football overall - fewer of the top teams would be able to afford the facilities/coaches that make them top teams.

47
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 11:24am

Assumption #1 - football programs make money in proportion to their recent record. Even at the high attendence, big statium schools, donors will give more money to the team/school if the record is good.

The financial value of a win/loss is not immaterial.

Assumption #2 - revenue sharing within conferences already happens - that is why the conferences were created. Bowl and TV proceeds, by some formula, trickle down to all of the schools.

Thus, to make a Texas-Florida regular season pairing feasible, you have to cover not only the financial value of the certain loss by one of the schools, the other schools in the conference need to somehow be covered.

One way to do that, is to divise a method to share the specific game proceeds and TV revenues between the respective two conferences so that the financial risk is shared, and one team/conference doesn't receive a windfall while the other team/conference loses money.

Just to be clear, the financial risk of playing the game is that one side is virutally assured not to be in the Championship Game, and the difference between the Champtionship Game and the Sugar Bowl is not immaterial.

60
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 4:15pm

Assumption #1 - football programs make money in proportion to their recent record. Even at the high attendence, big statium schools, donors will give more money to the team/school if the record is good.

You're missing the counterpoint to this, which is that football programs make more money when they play better teams. FCS teams don't bring in nearly as much money as major FBS teams do. And the financial benefit to being a 'good team' is really not that strong. If a team's down on its luck, schools change the coaching, etc., and then boosters give money to "bring the school back to where it belongs."

Assumption #2 - revenue sharing within conferences already happens - that is why the conferences were created. Bowl and TV proceeds, by some formula, trickle down to all of the schools.

And here's the evidence for that counterpoint. If winning records were what really mattered, and not money, the conferences wouldn't be as top-heavy as they are. It's really hard to win in the BCS conferences. You play much, much harder conference schedules.

One way to do that, is to divise a method to share the specific game proceeds and TV revenues between the respective two conferences

... which is already done when two major conference teams play each other. The problem is that financially, that payout for each team (when you consider the home game they have to give up in return) is less than 2x the payout from playing a low-tier FBS or an FCS school.

and the difference between the Champtionship Game and the Sugar Bowl is not immaterial.

Yeah, it pretty much is. Teams don't really make extra money from playing the Championship Game versus the Sugar Bowl.

If people really are focused on more interconference games, I don't think they should focus on eliminating the cream-puff OOC games. Those you have to have to make money. If you want more interconference games, you should probably eliminate one of the in-conference games. Makes determining a conference champ harder, but makes determining the national champion easier.

Fans of BCS schools who say they want to see more games vs top-level competition should ask fans of non-BCS schools how much top-level competition their teams see.

74
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 9:08pm

Also, while revenue sharing exists within conferences, it's not at all the same within each conference. Ask Missouri: everyone else is.

And in a conference like the Big Ten, where bowl proceeds are shared equally, the difference among the various BCS bowls is really pretty small. It's not like, say, Notre Dame, where the school gets 100% of that difference.

Also also, it's not just about gate-receipt money, it's about distance (for both teams). I'd guess with the exception of the best I-AA schools, I-A/I-AA matchups tend to be local. Get the guys down the road to drive up, give them some cash for the trip; your team stays home, gets that extra time on campus rather than on a plane, and the opposing team gets a nice check they wouldn't receive otherwise. (After all, there are plenty of I-AA teams hurting for money right now. Maybe that's one of the reasons they're expanding the I-AA playoffs.)

What would it take to get Boise State to play a home-and-home with South Carolina? Not sure, but why would either team do it? Yeah, Ohio State and USC can criss-cross, but most schools can't do that so lightly. (And again, as you point out, a top I-A/I-A usually means home-and-home.)

Dropping in-conference games might not be such a bad idea, especially as conferences continue to move toward two-division alignments. That makes it really easy to shrink the schedule: as long as you play everyone in your division, the games you play outside the division make less difference in terms of determining division champs.

78
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 12:29pm

You're missing the counterpoint to this, which is that football programs make more money when they play better teams. FCS teams don't bring in nearly as much money as major FBS teams do. And the financial benefit to being a 'good team' is really not that strong. If a team's down on its luck, schools change the coaching, etc., and then boosters give money to "bring the school back to where it belongs."

We're disagreeing on this assumption. While a UF/Texas game may make more money in aggregate, they are each losing a home game every 2 years. So instead of paying $500k to Citedel to sell out a game and get negligible TV revenues, they are getting to play Texas, selling out a game, and getting more TV revenue. I'm assuming that the extra home game brings more money than the extra TV revenue, but I could be wrong.

I see far more merchandise in Gainesville and elsewhere that say "National Championship" than "2009 Sugar Bowl Champion", even assuming that the difference in payouts, once distributed, is immaterial to UF.

Boosters are Boosters, but I can assure you that UF has received far more $$ in the last 5 years than during any 5 years of the Pell/Hall era, inflation adjusted. To attribute that to anything but winning seems dishonest.

79
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 2:51pm

While a UF/Texas game may make more money in aggregate, they are each losing a home game every 2 years. So instead of paying $500k to Citedel to sell out a game and get negligible TV revenues, they are getting to play Texas, selling out a game, and getting more TV revenue. I'm assuming that the extra home game brings more money than the extra TV revenue, but I could be wrong.

Yeah, it does. It's closer for, say, UF/Texas than it would be versus Boise State, say, but there's a reason why they can't play 2 or 3 games versus, say, Texas, Ohio State, USC, etc. each year. Because they can't afford it.

They really couldn't afford to, say, play Boise State in a home-and-home. The increased revenue at home would be marginal, and they'd lose (well, relative to what they get at home) a ton going there.

To attribute that to anything but winning seems dishonest.

Really? Because I'd attribute it to winning two national championships and being top-ranked consistently. Which had way more to do with spending a lot of money to build a top-shelf program than with scheduling cream-puffs as OOC opponents.

Teams don't bring in booster money by beating random FCS opponents. That actually ticks off the boosters more than anything else.

4
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 4:04pm

"When we’re discussing Boise State and Alabama’s resumes, apples and oranges doesn’t seem sufficient. It’s more like apples and elephants."

Glad someone finally decided to make an argument based in Planet Earth when comparing these teams. Yes it would be great to have a playoff, and Boise's a nice story - but the same thing would happen to them as does Gonzaga in March every year. They may get close, but in the end it's a big program hoisting the trophy.

6
by myteam.gt.yourteam (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 4:55pm

tsmonk:

I hear this a lot, and my own bias says the same thing to me, but is it really true? How good is Boise, really, compared to Alabama? Brian's point is that WE DON'T KNOW. There isn't enough correlating competition to draw a meaningful conclusion.

Boise has been a considerable underdog in both of their BCS games. Utah was a no-hoper last year. But if you watched the games you saw that their victories were not flukes. They lined up and played with the big boys. Major conference teams will tend to be better, but it is certainly possible to build a powerful team outside of them.

The Gonzaga story is different. Gonzaga plays teams like Michigan State and Duke every year, and we can get an idea of how good they are. Boise St reminds me of Larry Bird-era Indiana State: undefeated, but with NO way of knowing just how good they are until the tournament.

8
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 5:07pm

If "big program" means coming from a BCS conference, let it be noted that it took a strange turn of events for Memphis to not win the NCAA tournament a couple of years ago. George Mason made to the final four a few years ago. UNLV won the trophy in the early nineties.

11
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 5:57pm

1) It also took a "strange turn of events" for Memphis to get to the Finals - in the form of fairly egregious academic fraud. So over an 18-year span, we have one "not-ready-for-prime-time-player" that cut down the nets, with a couple that came close. Sounds somewhat like CFB, wouldn't you say?

14
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 6:16pm

Golly, I sure am glad that there isn't egregious academic fraud happening at the "big programs".

Over an 18 year span, in 1/6 of the years a school from a non big program came close to cutting down the nets (we'll go ahead an call Marquette a big program), and more than 5% of the time they did. Sounds like an excellent reason to have a playoff featuring eight conference champs from conferences of at least 12 football teams. Designate the first Saturday in December for conference championship games, hold a t.v. rights auction for that, the quarterfinals a week later at the home fileds of seeds 1-4, the semis at traditional major bowl games on Jan. 1, and then a championship a week later. Let the cash roll in, spread it around. Everybody gets more money, and fans get more good games, and fewer bad ones, if the proper seeding incentives are used.

16
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 6:30pm

"Golly, I sure am glad that there isn't egregious academic fraud happening at the "big programs"."

You're welcome to produce a recent NCAA champion that's been as bad an offender as Memphis. I suspect you cannot.

I'm not opposed to a playoffs, but saying "everybody gets more money" is simplistic, if not false. If they coulda, they woulda. We know this has nothing to do with academics, players missing class time - they would have to share the cash with far more teams and conferences than they had. And in the cold hard world of sports business - and not an episode of Oprah - that's a valid reason. Sucks, but there it is.

18
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 7:17pm

Yes, in the tiny sampke size of NCAA champs, there may not be as egregious an example of academic fraud as Memphis. In your sample size of big prorams, there are plenty.

Cartels quite frequently fail to maximize revenues and profits, in their effort to exclude other economic actors. I think this is quite likely the case here. By failing to band eight (maybe seven, after some expansion/consolidation) conferences together, encompassing all regions of the nation, and negotiate as a whole with the content guzzlers like News Corp., Comcast, Disney, or Viacom, who are just desperate to find another NFL style eyeball magnet, these schools are leaving a ton of money on the table.

23
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 8:17pm

You brought up Memphis as an example. The player in question is in the NBA now. It doesn't get more cause-and-and effect than that.

31
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 10:30pm

What cause and effect are you referring to?

45
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 9:57am

They basically got to the finals because they had a ringer. And a ringer who just about couldn't spell his own name.

48
by RickD :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 2:14pm

Seems to me that the original point was that a team could advance to the championship game in basketball even from a small conference. Your rebuttal appears to be "Calipari is a cheater". A true point, but not really an adequate rebuttal. As Will Allen points out, there is plenty of cheating going on at major conference programs. But more to the point, it doesn't rebut the notion that non-power conference teams could succeed, if given the chance.

While I agree that this is certainly easier to pull off in basketball than football, your implied position appears to be "non-power conference schools can only achieve the highest levels if they cheat". And I would certainly dispute that.

In any case, a presumption is a poor substitute for a competition.

49
by Eddo :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 2:26pm

Right, and also recall that Memphis was a #1 and #2 seed that reached the Elite 8 the two years prior to Derrick Rose joining the team, so it's not like he was the only reason they reached the title game (Chris Douglas-Roberts, by all account, a legitimate recruit, was an All-American the year they reached the title game).

50
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 2:27pm

Hey, no problem. Refute it with a real-world case. I think the NCAA's have shown that the big boys win - in spite of their supremely egalitarian format.

52
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 2:36pm

Yes, the big programs win most of the time. So what? UNLV shouldn't have been allowed to win, because their conference doean't produce enough champions? Huh?

66
by John (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 5:57pm

While I don't disagree with your overall point, I do find it funny that you cite a Jerry Tarkanian UNLV team as an example of academic integrity.

51
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 2:33pm

And it is quite likely that Reggie Bush's family got paid for Reggie to play at USC. So what? When there are recent examples of a Utah kicking the crap out of Alabama on national t.v., and Boise State destroying the eventual Pac 10 champ, it is pretty speculative to flatly assert that a non BCS school could not win 3 consecutive games against such teams.

53
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 2:53pm

Oh, almost forgot - do I need to point out that your David-esque example, as far as the NCAA record books is concerned, never actually happened, b? And I hope USC does get smacked to kingdom come. The 04-05 awards would go to...Utah? Boise? Cincinatti? Nope. The upsets have been great to watch, no doubt - but yeah, if you're going to throw the bowl system on its ear to accomodate a "greater than 5% chance", forgive me if I see the other side's point just a bit on this one. Sounds good in its concept - so does Marxism.

To reiterate: I'm not necessarily opposed to a playoff. My conference (SEC) at least agitated for a plus-one, which would've at least allowed for UC & TCU. They were shot down. I just don't per se look at the system as "broken" - I think, for all its flaws, it is the most exciting product out there. If you disagree, hot a problem - I realize I'm in the minority.

54
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 3:20pm

What is so optimally exciting about a system which incentivizes teams to deliberately schedule a significant part of their schedule with teams which are very, very, unlikely going to provide competition?

Referring to the record books of an organization as corrupt as the NCAA as being illustrative of what the future would foretell is a bit puzzling.

55
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 3:34pm

If you're aware of some great injustice inflicted on poor Memphis, let's hear it.

Otherwise - your issue should be with Boise, not UF (for example). Yep, they schedule Citadel (or Charleston Southern), but their schedule is still tougher. As much as SoS polls vary (by a lot), I've yet to see one that doesn't rank Boise/TCU poorly.

56
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 3:46pm

Boise will play anyone who agrees to a home and home. They don't deliberately try to schedule teams which they know will be very unlikely to provide competition. You seem to imply some sort of moral argument here, which is certainly not my intent, at least not in this post. You said college football is the most excotong thing around. I'm merely asking what is so optimally exciting about having teams DELIBERATELY schedule a good chunk of their games with teams which are extremely unlikely to provide competition. Why not make things better? Or do you think having Florida play The Citadel is the most exciting way to do things?

57
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 3:48pm

Oh, and I didn't say any injustice was done to Memphis. I said it was puzzling to refer to the NCAA record books as if it was anything of value.

59
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 4:06pm

I didn't say it was flawless. Of course it's a great product in spite of its shortcomings and not because of them. But in-conference matchups, esecially the rivalries - eclipse that of any other sport, IMO. Getting back to Boise - is it really wrong for an AD to question the dollars and cents of having an H&H with a 32K stadium when he his sells out 90K? Again, I know it sucks, but there it is.

And to use the NCAA BB for another example (I promise it'll be my last), I watch a lot of sports, and Basketball is probably my favorite sport to play - but I doubt I see more than a couple of regular season games up until the conference tourneys (if then.

And I think everyone except MLB (NFL, NBA, NHL, March Madness, College WS) has way too many teams in the playoffs. It devalues the regular season. Other than the shootout in Arizona this weekend (great defense, hehe), zzzzzzzzzzzzz....

61
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 4:22pm

Oh, and assuming Memphis's offense happened the way it looks - the Mullahs of Iran could've decreed the punishment and it would've been correct.

63
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 4:54pm

Oh, and I didn't say anything about the correctness, or lack thereof, entailed in Memphis' punishment. I am merely puzzled as to why you think Memphis recruiting violations are pertinent to the your argument that basketball's experiences establishes that a non BCS footabll team would be unable to win a national chmapionship.

62
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 4:50pm

So you think an eight team conference champ playoff is somehow similar to a 64 team playoff with multiple entries from multiple conferences? Really? In what way?

Look, if you are going to make dollars and cents argument, then the path to go down is with a playoff, because that would certainly maximize the dollars and cents. It isn't outlandish in the least to think of intelligently constructed college football packages featuring a playoff pulling in a couple of billion per year, divided up among around 100 schools. Just to start with. If Florida doesn't want to do a home and home with Boise, fine, but is that any reason not to do one with Wisconsin? If you want to make revenue driven decisions, then get serious about it.

If you think in conference match ups are the best thing about the sport, why on earth do you favor a system where it is possible to fall short of a conference championship, yet still be eligible for a "national championship"?

64
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 5:21pm

"Look, if you are going to make dollars and cents argument, then the path to go down is with a playoff, because that would certainly maximize the dollars and cents."

Perhaps. Obviously some large organizations think they stand to lose a ton of money if they go that way. I think your theory of these conferences cutting off their nose to spite their face is feasible, but it's still just a theory.

"If Florida doesn't want to do a home and home with Boise, fine, but is that any reason not to do one with Wisconsin? If you want to make revenue driven decisions, then get serious about it."

I'd go with this. I think it's reasonable. Best man in my wedding is a stinkin' Badger guy, I'd love to see it. But let's be honest - UW has enjoyed some OOC cupcakes in their day as well (where is Wofford?). Frankly, I don't think teams have to travel all over creation - just schedule those "up-n-comers" in their region and give them their shots. In UW's case, perhaps a team like Central Michigan. And insofar as sceduling road games in the late months - I suppose, but you're talking about the meat of conference play.

"If you think in conference match ups are the best thing about the sport, why on earth do you favor a system where it is possible to fall short of a conference championship, yet still be eligible for a "national championship"?"

??? When did that happen? You're asking me to say what's so great about a theoretical occurence. I'd say it's not optimal, I guess. But whatever the case, we'll always have some aggrieved party, no matter the format. That's what happens when you have 120 schools that want a piece of the action as opposed to a 30 team professional league. I understand March Madness is even considering expanding to 96 teams. Why even have a regular season?

My thing is: it's amazing how long College Football's been going to hell without actually getting there.

65
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 5:51pm

Again, what does March Madness have to do with a tournament limited to a small group of conference champions?

In 2003, Oklahoma lost the Big 12 Championship to Kansas State, yet still was able to play in the BCS title game. The system was tweaked to make this less likely to happen again, but it is still possible. Why would someone who thinks the conference match-ups are the best thing about college football favor this? Why wouldn't you prefer a system which explicitly stated that no national championship was possible without first gaining a conference championship?

I never said college football was going to hell. I said it was far less than what it could be, from both a competition and revenue standpoint.

As I stated in another post, it isn't all unusual for powerful cartel members to fail to maximize their profits or revenues out of an overarching concern to exclude other actors. This is likely a prime example. For instance, there isn't any reason that Comcast or Disney shouldn't be paying NFL prices for premium Thursday night college games, like they do for Sunday or Monday Night NFL games. Putting a package together which includes a tournament consisting of a Conference Championship Saturday, followed by quarters, semis, and finals, is they way to make that happen.

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by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 6:17pm

Well, in '08 OU was the B12 champ and rep for the NCG. UT was the better team - they had a much better defense and probably would've edged UF. So it worked out the way you'd have it work, and guess what? We probably got an inferior game.

"As I stated in another post, it isn't all unusual for powerful cartel members to fail to maximize their profits or revenues out of an overarching concern to exclude other actors. This is likely a prime example. For instance, there isn't any reason that Comcast or Disney shouldn't be paying NFL prices for premium Thursday night college games, like they do for Sunday or Monday Night NFL games. Putting a package together which includes a tournament consisting of a Conference Championship Saturday, followed by quarters, semis, and finals, is they way to make that happen."

I've already alluded to this. I said it's feasible as a theory. But it's only a theory. You're talking about moving heaven and earth to accomodate a "better than 5% chance". Forgive me if I don't see it as the thing that shoots CFB to quantum levels. And incidentally, it's the SEC that has a championship and advocated a plus-one. Isn't it a bit odd that they're supposedly the cowards in this equation?

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by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 6:21pm

"Forgive me if I don't see it as the thing that shoots CFB to quantum levels."

A bit harsh. I mean something more like, will necessarily shoot CFB to quantum levels.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 6:53pm

I never said anyone was a coward, merely very short-sighted, which, again is very typical cartel behavior. I used Wisconsin as an example because they do the same thing. A system which results in the Badgers playing the Auburn Tigers in September, instead of Wofford, would be better.

The situation in '08 was merely an artifact of the Big 12 having a dumb system for determining their division champs. Make the naming of the conference champ of ultimate importance, and you create a strong incentive for doing a more intelligent job of naming the division champs. Again, if you like interconference rivalries best in college football, why not make winning a conference championship the thing from which all other good things flow?

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by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 7:54pm

"Again, if you like interconference rivalries best in college football, why not make winning a conference championship the thing from which all other good things flow?"

*chuckle* - nothing, Will. I'm sure it'll be grand. If they decide to do it all tomorrow, fantastic - just don't be surprised if the vast, vast, vast majority (maybe 100%) of the champions look strikingly familiar to the ones of years' past, with major TV contracts, 90+K stadiums, enormous fanbases, high rankings in the recruiting pubs, and a history of having won these things before.

Just to reiterate the point, though: if you want to include the SEC as part of the problem, fine - but seeing as the measures they've already implemented and suggested haven't been duplicated by others, you may want to shift a bit more of the blame to others.

5
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 4:23pm

I understand the author spoke to this matter in the article but it is still striking as to the disparity between these rankings and what was observed.

While the final score was close the reality was that Wisconsin dominated Miami twenty ways from Sunday. Miami's lines were engulfed by the Badgers and only turnovers and some great individual efforts by certain Miami players kept this game from being a 3 touchdown or more blowout.

10
by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 5:46pm

...only turnovers and some great individual efforts by certain Miami players kept this game from being a 3 touchdown or more blowout.

Since when were turnovers and "great individual efforts" no longer part of the game?

7
by Jeff Fogle :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 4:59pm

Brian,

Thanks for doing a trial run taking out non-offensive scores. Disappointing that didn't bear any fruit. I'm still skeptical that Wake's win over Stanford wouldn't have been canceled out by losses to Baylor and Navy...that NC State's win over Pitt wouldn't be canceled out some at least by the loss to South Carolina...and that FSU's win at BYU wouldn't be canceled out some by the double digit home loss to South Florida and the blowout at the hands of Florida. The cumulative effect of non-conference play with those guys shouldn't launch ACC up to superpower status, particularly given the won-lost record in bowls when ACC teams play other BCS leagues.

I know you don't count poor results vs. FBS teams in the mix. Is there a way to only count poor results but leave out the trashy blowouts?

*FSU only beat Jacksonville 19-9, and it was close much of the way.
*Maryland had to go OT to beat James Madison
*Duke lost to Richmond
*Virginia lost to William & Mary

Could see reasons to include a penalty for subpar statistical performances vs. FBS squads. That might have pulled strength of schedule down some.

Wanted to ask about your definition of "efficiency" vs. others. I know in basketball the standard stathead definition is "points per 100 possessions" to measure offensive and defensive efficiency (Oliver/Hollinger/Pomeroy). It seems I keep running into multiple definitions in football...you have one here...the S+P rankings say it measures efficiency...the DVOA listings for NFL are listed under "team efficiency" in the pulldown. Saw something in SI where a guy measures efficiency. Is there a standard definition of what the word means in the football stathead universe and I'm misreading that? Or, is everyone defining what it means their own way?

Regarding increasing games that matter in college football...I was thinking it would be cool if the BCS kind of "mandated" the third Saturday in September for a "challenge" day similar to the ACC-Big Ten challenge in hoops. The BCS would say the computers need more evidence for proper evaluations, so teams would be "assigned" a game based on where they finished in last year's standings...and then you'd have the SEC play the ACC, the Big Ten play the Big East, the Big 12 play the Pac 10 (with some teams being un-matched, meaning they could then schedule an FBS game that week or take a bye). Do the same thing with CUSA-MAC-Mountain West-WAC. Let the Mountain West or CUSA match up with the big boys one year. Alternate it around so...over 4-5 years...there's a decent record of conference strengths.

Creates:
*A virtual September "bowl" day across the country with some great matchups.
*A system of rating the conferences.
*The fun of conference challenges for bragging rights
*A sense of importance because the games really matter in the big picture (bowls that matter!).

It doesn't conflict with conference schedules. Doesn't detract in any way from the regular season. It makes BCS contenders beat somebody decent in September. It should help TV packages rather than hurt them.

Just an idea...thanks again for doing the FEI run-throughs without non-offensive points in the pre-season games...

9
by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 5:43pm

Devaluation of regular season games is an illegitimate argument for the bowl system and against a college football playoff. What value is there in playing Southeastern Louisiana's and Texas State's? I am sure Heisman hopefuls appreciate the stat boosting opportunities, but how can a team be judged if Northwestern is not playing between the hedges in mid-September and Auburn is not playing north of Tennessee in late October? At their heart, the bowl season is just exhibition games blown up to epic proportions. That correlates nicely, since 40% of regular season games are just that, exhibition games.

12
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 6:01pm

Develop a playoff system featuring eight conference champs, with the quarterfinals played at seeds 1-4, on the second Saturday in December. Seed the tournament by highest quality non conference victories. This would result in a better regular season, since it would preclude making a conference race less than primary. Right now, it is quite possible for a 2nd place conference finisher to play for the "National Championship". It also gives teams a strong incentive to play high quality non-conference opponents, thus weakening the worst feature of college football. The Citadel no longer takes it's annual pigramage to get stomped in Gainesville!

Throw in an occasional December game in Lincoln, featuring Florida, or in Happy Valley, featuring USC, and college football ends up being a lot more entertaining, unless you really have a preference for 52-14 games.

24
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 8:21pm

"Seed the tournament by highest quality non conference victories."

What's the logic here? Who cares whether their victories were in-conference or out of conference? If you want to fix scheduling, fix it directly. Teams don't schedule weak teams because they care about the team strength. They schedule them because of money.

Team A (12-0) beats team B (10-2), in conference, and wins their conference, and beats team C (8-4) another conference champ as their best non-con victory.
Team C beats team B (10-2) out of conference.

So team C - who's 8-4 - gets seeded above team A - who's 12-0? Even though team A beat team C? Even if you put head-to-head first, I could add a team D (7-5) in another conference, who team A beat and who also beat team C, and remove team A's victory over team C.

"It also gives teams a strong incentive to play high quality non-conference opponents"

Yeah, if it wasn't for the whole "money" thing. They can't afford to pay high-quality non-conference opponents. It's too expensive - they make waaay more money playing a team that doesn't demand a home game in return and doesn't want a share of the box-office receipts.

30
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 10:22pm

If they want to jeapordize their chance for a home playoff game, to play Wofford, that would be their choice.

Somehow, Texas and Ohio State have been able to afford to play each other, among other recent match-ups.

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by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 11:57pm

If they want to jeapordize their chance for a home playoff game,

Wait, were you seriously suggesting having the playoff games not be fixed in location? You can't possibly think that will work. It's one thing to ask a city of millions to dynamically plan a playoff game (and, okay, Green Bay, but Green Bay's a special case) on a few weeks notice.

It's completely and totally impossible to imagine little podunk towns of 50K in the middle of nowhere suddenly up and hosting 100,000 people on a few weeks notice. They're just not built to handle that.

Somehow, Texas and Ohio State have been able to afford to play each other, among other recent match-ups.

Yup. With a home-and-home. And then there was USC, which also was a home-and-home.

Teams can afford to play typically one - maybe two - games that are a home-and-home series. If they get lucky - like Ohio State did - the team they schedule them with stays a powerhouse for the 5+ years it took to schedule the game.

If they get unlucky - like, say Penn State did scheduling Nebraska - the team falls apart and people say "WTF did you schedule them for!" Now you want to *seed* the teams based on that? That's crazy - even the best teams bounce between 12-0 and 8-4 on a yearly basis.

It's also worth noting that those games were arranged before the economy tanked. I can almost guarantee you'll start seeing fewer home-and-home scheduling in the near future what with budget cutbacks.

Little weirdo incentivizing solutions won't cut it. You want to fix scheduling, do it on a large scale.

39
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 12:30am

Yes, I understand it is your claim that the sort of college towns which have 100,000 attend their games would not be able to handle a playoff game in the 2nd week of December, because there would be inadequate notice of the possibility of a game.

Yes, I undertand that forecasting the future is difficult. I can predict with confidence, however, that TCU will be able to give Clemson a more competitive game in five years than The Citadel. If you care to differ, fine.

I'm not locked into this method, however. If there are better ways to have a higher percentage of games be competitive, while expanding the pool of teams which are on equal footing to win a national championship, if they beat every team they play, fine.

41
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 1:30am

If there are better ways to have a higher percentage of games be competitive, while expanding the pool of teams which are on equal footing to win a national championship, if they beat every team they play, fine.no one really making a 'profit' (the major schools just fund larger portions of their athletic department), the system's going to suck. If you change the framework, the system will just find new and interesting ways to suck.

And you're never going to change the budget disparity without cutting FBS in two - at least - again. That's what has to happen. There's simply no other option.

42
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 1:44am

Well, you and I simply aren't going to agree on this.

On something where we might find common ground, where do you think the Big Ten expansion sweepstakes are going to land? East or West? In some ways, I think the more interesting dominoes would be set in motion if Missouri was picked off, which I've heard rumous of. TCU would go the Big 12 in short order. The Pac 10 might expand with two Mountain West jumpers, maybe BYU and Utah, and then perhaps a consolidation of the Mountain West and WAC could occur. What gets set in motion if a Rutgers jumps?

58
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 3:53pm

Geh, half my comment got cut by stupidity with HTML tags. All I'm really saying is that you have to look at the league as a whole, and say "is it really possible to make college football fair?" It's fairly obvious that the answer is no. Even in the FBS, the money disparity is on the scale of a factor of 100. That makes Major League Baseball's salary differences look paltry.

So long as the money difference remains that huge, any new system you put in place will just have the rich schools find new ways to make it suck. They might do it within the system, or they might simply say "screw this" if it costs them money, and never let it happen. There's just no way to avoid this - if you legislated it somehow, you'd just hurt college football, since the rich teams are the ones that drive interest and promote the sport anyway.

That's why I'm stressing that the only correct answer is to cut the FBS in two. The only problem with this is that it shunts money away from the lesser schools, which use it to prop up other sports. In other words, what's best for the sport is not what's best for the overall institutions.

Keep in mind - while you think it's unfair that players for, say, Troy, have no shot at the national championship, they got a scholarship, and are getting paid. Do you think, if they were asked "which do you want, a 'theoretical' shot (which you'll never actually see anyway, since the other teams have huge advantages in recruiting you can't possibly match) at a national championship, or a scholarship and stipend?" they would say "national championship!" Not very likely.

In some ways, I think the more interesting dominoes would be set in motion if Missouri was picked off, which I've heard rumous of. TCU would go the Big 12 in short order. The Pac 10 might expand with two Mountain West jumpers, maybe BYU and Utah, and then perhaps a consolidation of the Mountain West and WAC could occur.

I think it's incredibly unlikely that the MWC breaks up like that when they're very likely to gain an autoberth in the BCS in two years.

I think the Missouri rumors came from reporters - the only quotes from the athletic department were basically "no, seriously no, stop making us laugh." Pitt, Rutgers, or Maryland make far more sense - they're basically close to on par with the Big Ten schools academically, they're all public, they're in decent markets. Pitt's more likely - Rutgers's football commitment is questionable and expansion makes zero sense unless the school you expand to has a stadium that's around average.

At that point, I'm not sure the Big East would be able to get another football team. I think they'd settle with a basketball team, since I don't think they'd be able to draw, say, Maryland from the ACC.

67
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 6:02pm

I will leave alone our primary topic of conversation, because we just differ on what is possible.

Regarding conference realignments, I just can't see the Pac 10 forever ignoring the revenue potential of a conference championship game. When they make a move, it seems two schools with a track record in football and basketball from the Mountain West are the natural candidates. Then the Mountain West has to realign, and it would make sense for them to end up with at least 12 members. I've already heard that Boise would prefer to be in the Mountain West, although I don't know the truth of it.

72
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 7:56pm

When they make a move, it seems two schools with a track record in football and basketball from the Mountain West are the natural candidates.

Sure, but the lure of the PAC-10 goes down a lot if the MWC gains an autoberth and TCU, Utah, BYU only have to fight each other for it rather than a slew of other quality teams - one of which is USC. Which is why I don't think those teams will be interested unless things go south for the conference in the next two years.

The MWC will gain a lot of bargaining power with TV contracts if they get that autoberth as well - which, like I said, is pretty much guaranteed if 2006-2009 end up being indicative of 2010-2011.

37
by Brendan Scolari :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 12:11am

SC is one program that doesn't have a problem with scheduling. They play 9 conference game and 2 of their 3 out-of-conference games are against Ohio State and Notre Dame. So the play 1 cupcake max, not including poor Pac-10 teams.

21
by dbostedo :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 7:34pm

Just because some games have no value, doesn't mean a playoff wouldn't devalue the regular season. I lean toward not having a play-off, because I don't want to see the games that are important now lose some of their lustre. I don't think EVERY game is meaningful or proves anything since so many aren't competitive - but they are all important, since running the table is much more important under the current system.

Example - Alabama barely squeaked by Tennessee this year. As things stand, if they had lost, a lot of teams seasons could have turned out differently. That one game may have produced an entirely different bowl slate. If there was a playoff, that loss might not have been a big deal, since all it would have affected was their seeding.

Now, if we had a playoff, I'm sure I'd love that too...it's different, and I think a little worse, but wouldn't make me less of a fan. It's just that given the choice, I'd leave things pretty much as they are.

22
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 7:58pm

One of the things that I find so offensive about the current set-up is that these jerks who run the BCS schools make very good, and sometimes great money, by filling stadiums, frequently with the labor of 20 year old athletes from non BCS schools, who make do with tuition room and board worth maybe 20k a year. These 20 years olds from non BCS schools aren't even allowed to be on the same footing as other 20 year olds, in terms of a chance to win a championship, and if they develop into a really competitive non BCS program, the BCS jerks won't schedule them anymore, or at least won't play them in a home and home. Wyoming's 20 year olds are good enough to make Lane Kiffin some dough, and work just as hard as anyone else, but if they get good, Lane Kiffin and Co. will labor to make sure that they don't have the same opportunity as the Vols 20 year olds. That really sucks.

73
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 8:12pm

who make do with tuition room and board worth maybe 20k a year.

Um. Try closer to 40-60K/year. The housing stipend alone is between 10-25K/year, and out-of-state tuition can be in the 30-40K/year range.

from non BCS schools

Why do we call the conferences who don't have an autoberth 'non-BCS'? All FBS members are members of the BCS except for the two military independents.

the BCS jerks won't schedule them anymore, or at least won't play them in a home and home.

Anymore? They didn't play them in a home and home before they were competitive, either. If the mid-majors can't schedule the majors because now they want a home-and-home, but can't provide enough of a guarantee in terms of profit for their end of the home game... why is it the majors' fault?

If Utah, TCU, etc. could offer as much in returned revenue for their game as, say, USC or Texas, I'm sure majors would be willing to schedule them. Why wouldn't they? They schedule USC and Texas! But Utah, TCU, etc. can't. So the majors don't.

Wyoming's 20 year olds are good enough to make Lane Kiffin some dough

Tennessee wouldn't be making money off of Wyoming's 20 year olds. They were making money off of their own. The amount of money they made off of Wyoming's would be (money from Wyoming game)-(money from avg. game vs FCS opponent) - and I guarantee you that money is probably very close to zero.

75
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 10:14pm

Um, no. I am intimately aware of what a dorm room costs at a few of these universities, some of them ones where scholarship athletes live.

When a 20 year old travels to Knoxville, and helps sell out a stadium, that 20 year old is putting money in the pocket of whomever coaches the Vols. If not, let the people in for free.

76
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 1:14am

Um, yes.

"So large urban schools will pay a little more -- for example, the room and board of a typical Iowa State student is in the neighborhood of $5,000 per semester; at UCLA, it's over $12,000 per semester."

When a 20 year old travels to Knoxville, and helps sell out a stadium, that 20 year old is putting money in the pocket of whomever coaches the Vols. If not, let the people in for free.

Wrong logic. They'd still sell out the stadium (or nearly sell it out) with anyone. He's not doing anything to benefit the school. (And I don't get the "whomever coaches the Vols" - the coach doesn't get more money based on how the game performs).

77
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 11:55am

Yes, Pat, in the second most expensive real estate market in the country, it can run 12 grand per semester. Why on earth would you use that figure when we are discussing a 20 year old from Wyoming playing in Knoxville?

If the Volunteers can sell 600,000 to 700,000 tickets a year with intersquad games, they are free to do so. Until then, whomever does show up is supplying labor which puts money in the pocket of the Volunteers head coach.

80
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 3:16pm

Yes, Pat, in the second most expensive real estate market in the country, it can run 12 grand per semester

For housing and board alone. That's $24K/year. Add in out-of-state tuition at UCLA, which is $32K/year, and that's a total value to a UCLA football player of $56K/year.

That's a far cry from your "at most $20K" number.

Why on earth would you use that figure when we are discussing a 20 year old from Wyoming playing in Knoxville?

Why should a 20-year old playing football for Wyoming be getting paid a lot? The football program at Wyoming barely breaks even on its own.

And I'm really confused why it's such a horrible thing that a program that net profits less than $1M/year on its own (Wyoming) pays its players ~$1.5M/year in total.

which puts money in the pocket of the Volunteers head coach

You know, your argument would sound a lot better if you weren't putting these blatantly wrong "sound bite" statements in with them. The coach gets paid the same regardless of whether the Volunteers play Wyoming, Coastal Carolina, and Youngstown State or Florida, Texas, and USC. He gets paid the same amount regardless of whether the stadium is full or completely empty.

If you said "money in the pocket of the University of Tennessee," that's a lot closer to the truth.

But so what, in that case? The University of Wyoming is getting paid for it. And in turn, they give their players free tuition and room and board, which probably totals somewhere between $15K-$20K, and adds up to around $1.5M for everyone on the football program. Which is a significant fraction of the operating budget.

Sure, Tennessee gets more, but... what's the big deal? The reason they get more is because there's more demand for their product. People went there to see Tennessee, not Wyoming. If they were interested in seeing Wyoming... they'd make more money on their own games. Which they don't.

81
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 4:15pm

Well, Pat, it is disappointing that you would quote me in a disingenuous fashion. I wrote....

" frequently with the labor of 20 year old athletes from non BCS schools, who make do with tuition room and board worth maybe 20k a year. These 20 years olds from non BCS schools aren't even allowed to be on the same footing as other 20 year olds, in terms of a chance to win a championship, and if they develop into a really competitive non BCS program, the BCS jerks won't schedule them anymore, or at least won't play them in a home and home."

....and then went on to specifically cite the non-BCS school of Wyoming as an example. In other words, I specifically excluded a school like UCLA. Thus when you use the example of UCLA as way to disprove my (misquoted) "at most 20k" number, you are not engaging the point I made, and portryaing my words in a way which does not accurately reflect what I wrote.

Pat, if you are really going to make the argument that the compensation, or the degree of compensation, for the coach of the Volunteers takes place independent of whether they play in a full stadium or an empty stadium, there is no point in having further discussion.

Finally, yes, a business which is earning a million on only 1.5 million in labor costs, in the entertainment industry, is extraordinary. Why, one would, confronted with such a situation, be well served in suspecting that a cartel was either fixing prices or wages!

Any conference which has schools which the SEC, ACC, Big 10, Pac 10, Big East, and Big 12 conferences use to fill their stadiums is a confefrence whose champion should be on completely equal footing for entry into the major bowl games and national championship. If the Mountain West does get an auto-berth, that will be a step in the right direction, albeit not a completely satisfactory result.

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by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 11:29pm

Finally, yes, a business which is earning a million on only 1.5 million in labor costs, in the entertainment industry, is extraordinary.

Yeah, it's called "we don't have to pay taxes on scholarships and housing stipends." If they actually paid them real money, that $1M profit would go entirely away, if you assume the standard factor of two or so in overhead, oh, and they'd get less actual money. Factoring in the tax-free nature, you're talking about a value more like $30K or so.

(For reference, you got lucky with Wyoming, too. Pick, say, Central Michigan, and you've got a team that spent more on the entertainers than they actually bring in, by a lot!)

The real kids that are getting shafted aren't the Wyoming players. It's the Tennessee, USC, Ohio State players. There you can make a real claim that they're underpaid. The Wyoming, Central Michigan, San Diego State players are being grossly overpaid.

I really have no idea why you don't seem to think that splitting FBS in two again is a good idea. It's really the only concept that solves most of the problems. And it would allow the mid-majors to actually have a championship of their own.

Why does it make sense to give the Sun Belt champion a berth in a tournament where they're just going to get killed? Why not create a split in the FBS, have the two segments crown their own champion, and every 5 years or so evaluate the conferences to see if one should move up or down (much like the current autoberth situation)?

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 5:49pm

Oh, I agree. Hell, tuition, room and board, at Florida only runs about 17k annually! This paradigm is fundamentally corrupt, and no, a small chance at making it to the NFL doesn't make it much less so. If every one of these coaches and ADs conducted themself like Paterno, not making the maximization of their compensation their primary objective, I'd be less cynical about this system. As it is however, one can only look at this system and be revolted from time to time.

If the big revenue football programs only want to play other similar schools, fine. If they are are going to use the labor of students from other schools, then they need to let them compete on completely equal footing. If the other schools can't afford a football program on that basis, then that is telling us something, like maybe they should get out of the higher-overhead football business.

I really think there is a couple of billion in annual t.v. revenue to be divvied up, if the season is structured well, which would mean more interesting games to watch for people like you and me. How much it should be divvied up is a question open for debate. I think about 100 teams in eight conferences would really allow for a season which builds to crescendo, without weakening the drama of the conference races, but seven conferences and one at large bid would not be terrible. Anything which allows more than one 2nd place conference finisher to have a shot at the national championship really weakens the regular season, in my view.

44
by Darren (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 8:49am

Honestly, I'm fed up with this argument against a playoff system. For every Alabama-Tennessee game you "devalue" by including more than two teams in the end-of-season running for the national championship, you'll add back in another game involving teams on the bubble for selection that will suddenly have national championship value. For example, Ohio State-Iowa wound up being an exciting game to determine the Big Ten champion, but it had no national ramifications - what if that game had effectively been a play-in game to qualify for an eight-team playoff? The regular season won't be devalued at all - if anything, it'll become more exciting for more teams by casting a wider net.

And Alabama-Tennessee isn't even a good example of what you're talking about. If Alabama loses that game, it probably has to run the table thereafter to make the playoffs...which means the rest of its schedule (e.g., the end-of-season game against Auburn) becomes just as important as it is at present.

13
by Jeff Fogle :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 6:08pm

Tough to have a tournament with extra games for star players who are trying to protect their bodies for the NFL draft. That's become a big concern from the players' point of view in recent seasons (NFL guys from the schools coming back to warn college guys that it's essential to protect themselves because money is ahead). You heard ABC talking about it with McCoy. If guys are concerned about protecting themselves in the one extra game that already exists...it's going to become a huge deal if two teams have to play three straight wars against other powerhouse programs...and four straight wars counting their conference championship games. The star players are going to start making demands...big can of worms. A tourney isn't really workable in the current reality...but interconference games on the third Saturday of September as part of a 12-game schedule can be done.

15
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 6:22pm

Some teams are already playing 14 games. Having two play 16, and four 15, which would easily encompass an eight team tournament, isn't much of a change.

17
by Jeff Fogle :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 6:50pm

Sorry, Will...have to disagree...it's a HUGE change in terms of injury potential to stars on the best teams because of the physicality of those added games...particularly when the biggest wars would come consecutively (conference title game, first round, semifinal, final)...and particularly when the stars carry such a burden in trying to win the big games. QB's don't want concussions or shoulder injuries...RB's don't want knee injuries or concussions...defensive linemen don't want knee injuries from a borderline illegal block. It's already on the minds of the players...even without the added games.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 7:21pm

Give some quantification of "huge", please.

20
by dbostedo :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 7:25pm

The counter argument, Jeff, is then why play as many games as they currently do? Why not just play 8 games and a bowl game? When most schools were pushing to add a 13th game, there wasn't too much injury outcry (maybe there should have been?). But recent history suggests that won't factor in if it's what the school really want. The players have very little power to do anything other than refuse to play, which is terrible PR.

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by Jeff Fogle :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 9:42pm

First to Will...you're right, can't quantify huge. We can only extrapolate a bit from what we see with our own eyes. Living in Austin, I see Texas-OU every year. This year's game took forever to play because players kept getting carted off the field. Bradford went out with a shoulder injury (re-aggravating his prior injury). Oregon-Oregon State would be the caliber of a first round game. Erin Andrews was doing sideline reports on cracked helmets. That game also had several injury delays. In the big game...McCoy got knocked out early. The Willis McGahee type scary injuries would become more plentiful in my view because of increased opportunity in matchups with peak physicality.

For now, the teams generally don't string together wars in consecutive games. A tournament would do that and magnify the potential for serious injury in my view, particularly with the guys who do the heavy lifting (star running backs, QB's, and wide recievers...how many times would Jordan Shipley get tackled or hit hard in a sequence of Nebraska-Alabama-game-game?)

To dbostedo, college added a 12th game...which was largely a home money-making scrimmage type game. Not going to be much outcry regarding abusing the players with that. The championship game for divisional winners is typically offset by a week or two of preparation, then a month after the game before a bowl.

In general, players don't have much power. But, the STAR players definitely win the PR battle if it looks like universities and networks are making fortunes on their backs...and asking the players to risk big money contracts and draft position for the sake of putting on a show. We're already seeing NFL guys coming back to mentor the stars in the championship game to save themselves. That's going to become a bigger issue in a tournament...particularly if guys are falling in tourney games they way they are in Texas-OU type games and other college wars.

The games are just brutal when the elite play each other. Stringing together brutal games in a short calendar window magnifies the danger in my view. People are trying to play through injuries. People are playing fatigued. And, this is literally happening weeks before the first NFL combines and all the talk about the draft. It's an issue now with one huge battle...it will be a bigger issue with a tourney.

29
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 10:14pm

I'd be willing to look at some data regarding this, but absent that, this is really pure speculation. Those same guys hoping for big money seem to get through their rookie NFL years, which is far more violent, pretty regularly. This doesn't seem "huge" at all, and if it is shown to be an issue, the scum who run college football ought to be footing the bill for decent insurance for these guys anyways. Let the policies kick in with the conference championship games, and run through the end of the season.

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by Jeff Fogle :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 10:57pm

Maybe we're watching different college games. Agree that insurance policies or player payments would be an option. Tough to open that can of worms though. Who gets insured...ALL players in the tourney or just the guys with certain NFL futures? How do you determine the borderline cases? Players are on scholarships valued at about $20,000 per year and up depending on the university...then are imagining big time contracts in that first pro year. Tough bridge to gap.

It's easier for a rookie to make it through the NFL without a catastrophic first year injury because they're not carrying the load where the contact is to the same degree. They're not the EXTREME center of attention within an offense (or on blocking schemes for big defensive linemen) the way they are in their last year of college...particularly in the biggest games. Not underplaying the brutality of the NFL. Different contexts. Pro teams are also more careful with young investments than are college programs who will be done with the guy after this season. Pro teams develop and teach young talent, college programs launch them as missiles in their final season.

33
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 11:14pm

I can nearly guarantee that Clay Matthews, Marc Sanchez, Percy Harvin, amd Phil Loadholdt would tell you they have been hit harder and more frequently this year than last, and that it isn't even a close call.

36
by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 12:05am

You skipped over #1 Stafford to get to #5 Sanchez. Stafford could only play 10 games this year, missing time early because of a knee injury on a sack (his kneecap popped out), then went on IR with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.

You skipped over #4 Aaron Curry to get to #26 Clay Matthews. Curry injured his hip and shoulder, and missed the last two games.

You skipped over #7 Heyward-Bey to get to #22 Harvin. Bey only caught 9 passes before spraining his foot and missing the rest of the season.

So, you skipped over the top guys picked at those positions to go down to others at the position. Why?

Others injuries in the top few...

#2 pick Jason Smith suffered a sprained knee in September and a concussion in November

#6 Andre Smith fractured his foot

No reason to hunt through the whole first round because that's enough right there!

Rookies are making it through unscathed? Of course the NFL hits harder. Who in the world world would suggest otherwise? The college superpowers hit very hard too, particularly in head-to-head games that mean something. NFL bound players are going to get hurt in these extra college tournament games.

PS (edit): Sanchez missed a game with an injury. Harvin dealt with an injury in the preseason, had migraines, and was recently dealing with bulging discs in his neck. Loadholt hurt his shoulder vs. Arizona.

38
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 12:17am

Jeff, I also didn't list all the other guys drafted outside of the first round, who played as much as the guys you did list. So what? You made a claim that it is easier for NFL rookies to make it through a season without catstrophic injury. This claim is inaccurate.

If you have some data as to what the increased risk is for three teams to play more than 14 games it's be interesting to look at. By the way it would be perfectly possible for an eight team playoff to take place in the context of the championship as the fifteenth game. One extra game, for two teams, while many teams would have their current workload reduced from the current 14, thus reducing risk overall. This is not a sound argument against a playoff.

40
by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 1:12am

Jeez...

*I don't have any data for you about injury rates when top 10 superpowers string together multiple consecutive games against each other when championships are on the line. It doesn't happen. We can only look at what's happening now in the head-to-head games and theorize about the impact.

*The potential for injury is greater than zero. The star players on major college teams are in clear risk situations given the money that's coming their way. They know this. They talk about it. Alumni in the NFL talk about it with them. It's not a theory that they talk about it. This has been reported widely, particularly if you live in a college town with a team that contends for championships. We talked about it some during the live discussion group FO led here on game night... reacting to ABC talking about it so much when they kept showing McCoy walking to and from the locker room. If it's an issue now, any extra games will be an issue in the future. Snead of Ole Miss decided to skip his whole senior year. Many chided Bradford for coming back...and his injuries have scared others into thinking about saving themselves for the pro's.

*You said "Those same guys hoping for big money seem to get through their rookie NFL years, which is far more violent, pretty regularly." Depends on what you mean by "getting through" and "pretty regularly." Maybe you can define what "getting through" and "pretty regularly" mean, then we can run through the first round draft picks and decide who got through pretty regularly. Then we can apply that to the risk a college kid is taking in games that are physical, though not quite as physical as the NFL...assuming that the college superpowers are less focused on protecting him because they don't have a piece of his future.

*Hope you'll take a second to outline your plan for the 8-team tourney that ends at 15 games for the two finalists. Sounds like you have to stop everyone at 12 games (meaning no conference championship games), and you have to decide how to fill the brackets from either the six BCS leagues, or the 10 conferences (plus Notre Dame) that are eligible to send teams to the BCS bowls. Hope you'll correct me if that's inaccurate.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 3:26am

Sure. For example, Texas can stop playing University of louisiana-Monroe, and instead have a playoff game against TCU. If they go all the way, they and their final game opponent play fifteen games instead of fourteen. If the 12th regular season game is so important, no matter the extra t.v. revenue from a playoff, then it can explained why playing a non-competitve game is so critical. I really do need to go, so briefly....

Notre Dame can decide whether they want to join a conference, and have a chance to play in the tournament, or go on their own and play a team which has been eliminated, in a bowl game. I'm fine with a tournament of eight conference champs. The Big Ten is going to expand, and the Pac 10 likely will as well. I then think we could see some consolidation, and end up with eight conferences, each with a conference championship game, covering around 100 teams.

We could also average the rate of injury for Conference Championship and Bowl games, to get some sense of how big a risk an extra game would be. A prospect list, developed confidentially from NFL draft boards, could be used to create an insurable risk pool for the consensus first rounders. Individuals already are getting insurance on themselves, and this would just be for a few games.

25
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 8:22pm

Chaos:

Nice snark but that doesn't change the fact that Wisconsin had the ball for 38 minutes, pushed Miami all over the field and the great individual efforts of which I speak were diving tackles made by 50 of Miami who kept WI running backs to some 5-6 yard gains as the last man standing on the defense.

Hey, if you want to take the stance that if Miami and WI played ten times it would be a standoff or Miami would come out on top that is a route to take. But anyone who watched the game saw a ridiculous disparity in line play. Miami likely had better defensive backs and receivers but nobody could tell with the Wisky running game going wild and the Miami qb running for his life.

As another quick example neither the Miami linebackers nor the safeties could keep up with the Badger tight ends who wreaked havoc all night when WI did pass.

There were mismatches all over the field and the vast majority in WI's favor.

27
by Alexander :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 9:30pm

While I agree the rankings are not perfect your misconceptions about them seem incredibly misguided.

Think of football like a war, with whichever team is "superior" (in this case we could assume FEI is perfect) winning in a prolonged circumstance. Your average game is then like the Civil War, the North had no chance of losing, however a football game ends quickly and thus sometimes we have a situation where the Civil War ends abruptly after the Confederate victory at Manassas.

Some rarer cases are more like the Revolutionary War (America wins, but it is absurd to think America could have invaded Britain), where a key matchup makes the war unwinnable for one side in spite of being the overall superior team.

In either case one game should not influence the overall ranking in the way that you seem to think it should.

34
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 01/12/2010 - 11:48pm

Oh hey, it's the "don't let a single data point be your guide" speech.

It's the nature of the data point. The gap was so huge as to lend one pause. And it wasn't just that game. All the top tier Big Ten teams dominated play in the bowl games. Look it up. The Big Ten moved the ball at will. With a tad more ball security the wins would have been far more striking.

Those facts and how they repeated themselves in game after game are say something.

But feel free to dismiss them and adhere that the system is refined, the output is solid and feedback unwarranted.

Why do the baseball guys want to get better why the football guys get all huffy?

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by ChrisFromNJ :: Wed, 01/13/2010 - 10:40am

The ACC is ranked so highly because you make the mistake of excluding games against FCS competition. I'm pretty sure they managed a losing record against the CAA this year.

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by Jeff Fogle :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 5:13pm

Was hoping someone from FO or an longtime reader could comment on the definition of "efficiency." Mentioned that in an earlier post. Is it defined differently amongst FEI, S+P, DVOA, and any other football stathead stuff? Or, is there a firm definition like we see in basketball (points per 100 possessions)? Is there a way to get everyone on the same page...and if they are on the same page to define what that page is so that readers are saying "okay, efficiency means THIS." Thanks in advance if someone can take the time to walk through that with me...

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by Jeff Fogle :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 1:09am

Sorry, didn't mean to KILL THE THREAD for several hours. Hoping we can work toward some sort of standardization is all...or a clear, firm definition if it's already been standardized and I'm just not getting it...

85
by Jeff Fogle :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 2:21pm

Googled College Football Possession Efficiency, and it helpfully directed me to Brian's blog. Here's the post from 2006 that came up explaining his approach more in depth (though it may have changed since 2006).

http://bcftoys.blogspot.com/2006/10/efficiency-in-college-football.html

It looks like the formula used at the time anyway (midway down the page) was:

Points For minus Points Against/7
Divided by
Total Competitive Possessions/2

Brian, can I at least ask why you chose to divide points by 7 and total game possessions by 2 to create a final number like 0.0343 for efficiency rather than just using points per possession like basketball does. From your example, Texas would have 3.42 on offense and 2.92 on defense...USC vice versa. That may be too specific if you consider the question proprietary.

I'm just trying to figure out why there seem to be different definitions of efficiency within the football stathead world. Bill James didn't have different definitions for the same thing...and Baseball Prospectus didn't use the same word to describe something different once they started building from the James base. Oliver/Hollinger/Pomeroy all speak the same language in hoops.

Is there a way to get everyone on the same page?

*FEI explained:
"The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) considers each of the nearly 20,000 possessions every season in major college football. All drives are filtered to eliminate first-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores. A scoring rate analysis of the remaining possessions then determines the baseline possession efficiency expectations against which each team is measured."

*S+P explained:
"The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from the play-by-play data of all 800+ of a season's FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays). There are three key components to the S&P+:

* Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down."

*NFL Team efficiency rankings explained:
"These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings for 2009, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single NFL play and compares a team's performance to a league baseline based on situation in order to determine value over average."

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by Brian Fremeau :: Sat, 01/16/2010 - 12:31pm

The formula I use to calculate "Game Efficiency" divides scoring margin by 7 and possessions by 2 is just a style choice that places the "best" possible game at 100% and an average game at 0%. If a team scored a touchdown on every possession (with a successful extra point) and never gave up a score, it woud have a GE of 1.000 (and the opponent would have a GE of -1.000.

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by Jeff Fogle :: Sat, 01/16/2010 - 3:14pm

Thanks BF. Can see why that would be a style choice.