19 November 2008

Another Jam-Packed Mailbag

(From BCS Guru)

Where's Mailman Steve when you need him?

The Guru won't cry about being overwhelmed by mail - it's a sign of business is good. And with President-elect Barack Obama seemingly having some kind of fetish about the BCS - and the fact that the BCS just signed a four-year deal with ESPN ... my days as the Guru should be anything but numbered.

To reassure you the Guru's commitment, here's an announcement: The Guru answers EVERY SINGLE piece of e-mail that contains a question. Sometimes it'll take me a few days to get back to you, but always before the next weekend. Even if you post your question on the comments board, I'll get back to you - but I'd prefer to answer questions via e-mail.

And every two weeks or so, the best of these e-mails, with the most pertinent questions - along with answers - will be posted here. This is the latest installment:

  • For a USC fan what result should we be rooting in the Texas Tech/OK game?

I think you want to root for Texas Tech for a couple of reasons: 1) it eliminates Oklahoma; 2) then all you need is a Tech loss in the Big 12 title game against Missouri - they don't play each other this season - and I just think with Tech being new at this, it might not be able to handle the pressure of being one win away from the BCS title game - ironically like Missouri a year ago.

  • Say it ain't so! I am a die-hard Longhorn, and feel sick at the thought of OU jumping us in the BCS. I DON'T GET THIS AT ALL!!!!

    How can this be possible when the following is true:

    * Texas beat OU by 10 on a neutral field
    * Texas SOS is 5 opposed to OU at 27.
    * OU is 0-1 against Top 10 opponents, Texas is 3-1 (Four weeks in a row!!!)
    * BCS ranking now: TEXAS #3 with .891, OU #5 with .839 (How can OU make up this distance?)
    * Points allowed by OU defense opposed to points allowed by Texas defense (For example, Texas allowed KU 7 points opposed to OU allowing KU to score 31)

    I am no math expert, but I just don't understand how OU can jump Texas unless it blows out both TT and OSU. Please shed some light on this.

I know you're disheartened to hear this - and logic seems to favor the Longhorns - but the fact remains that if OU beats Texas Tech, especially if it's a blowout, OU probably will jump Texas - eventually. The Sooners' SOS will improve - as will their computer ratings - just by playing these last two games.

The best-case scenario, as a Texas fan, is for OU to win a close game and then beat OSU in another close game. A Tech win eliminates Texas (and Oklahoma) from the Big 12 title game ... so you definitely don't want that. Texas' best argument, if it gets to that dreaded three-way tie, will be that it won on the neutral field while the other two won at home.

  • We all know how important voting is going to be if it indeed does come down to a three way tie. The voters will have a big say over the issue, and my question is surrounding the votes of Mike Leach and Mack Brown. Stoops is not voting this year, and I'm worried about the biases of the other two coaches trying to get their teams into the Big 12 title game. For all we know, Brown and Leach could leave OU out of the top 25 altogether to hurt their overall points in the poll. I'm told that coaches votes are not made public until the last poll, which means they could technically vote however they want.

    One, do you see them leaving OU out of their ranking to hurt the Sooners' overall point total?

    And two, if this does happen, do you think the votes of these two coaches will have a substantial impact on the Sooners' BCS positioning?

Brown and Leach indeed can leave the Sooners out of the Top 25 entirely on the secret penultimate ballot. If they both do, the impact on the coaches' poll would be about .033 points - enough to alter the outcome in a close race. But the most likely event would be for them to move OU to, say, 10th. It would be sneaky but probably won't make that much of a difference.

However, most of the Harris voters have school/conference affiliations, too. And like the coaches poll, their anonymity is protected until the final poll. This is the very screwy thing about the BCS standings - the total lack of transparency.

That's why two things needs to happen: 1) It should be open ballot every week, like the AP; 2) The standings should not be used for any tiebreaking purposes, there is just too much inherent conflict of interest, and it was never the intent of the standings anyway.

  • If Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Texas all finish 11-1 and near the top of the BCS standings. Whoever wins the tiebreaker ends up losing the championship game to Missouri, and whoever wins the SEC Championship game loses a game to their arch rival before that. This could potentially end up with two big 12 teams finishing 1-2 in the BCS, and another Big 12 team (Missouri, presumably) having the conference championship. If I am reading the rules right, this would leave Missouri (the Big 12 Champion) out of the BCS entirely, wouldn’t it?

According to BCS administrator Bill Hancock, this potential conflict has just been amended to allow a THIRD team from the same conference to get a BCS bowl bid. So, if the Big 12 finishes with the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the BCS standings but Missouri wins the automatic bid, then the conference would indeed claim three spots.

  • "The champions of the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conferences will have annual automatic qualification for a BCS game after the regular seasons of 2008 through 2013, based on mathematical standards of performance during the 2004-2007 regular seasons. The 2006-2009 regular seasons will be evaluated under the same standards to determine if other conferences will have annual automatic qualification for the games after the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons. The champions of no more than seven conferences will have annual automatic berths."- according to the BCS Website.

    So, do you think that you could start tracking the BCS by Conference in a manner consistent with this evaluation process. I think it would be great information and give people some insight into the elite bias as well as the hope that the current system could actually benefit other conferences in the future.

Good idea ... it'll definitely be on my plate as a postseason project. They refused to reveal the formula, but I'm sure I can generate something comparable.

  • What happens if Utah and Boise both end up in the top 12 at the end of the year? Are they both guaranteed spots? If not, what is the BCS rule that governs this?

Only the highest-ranked non-BCS team, if it's in the top 14, is guaranteed a BCS berth. If there's another team, it would merely be "eligible" but not guaranteed (and not likely) to be selected. Right now, it looks like Boise needs a Utah loss to get that bid.

  • Any chance that if BYU beats Utah, either Utah or TCU end up going to a BCS Bowl instead of BYU (assuming Boise State and Ball State losses)?

First, you don't need to worry about Ball State. BYU is already ahead in the BCS standings. Second, you do need to worry about Boise State, it's not likely that a one-loss BYU would jump an undefeated Boise. Finally, Utah could survive a loss to BYU and stay ahead in the BCS standings (not so for two-loss TCU). If the voters only drop the Utes one or two spots in the polls, they can conceivably make up the difference with their superior computer rankings.

  • I can understand that with 4 non-BCS teams in the top 15 it a virtual guarantee that one of them will get a BCS invite, but what would have to happen for two of them to get invites?

Hell freezing over? Actually, not quite. You need three events, and two are quite probable: 1) Oregon State losing one of its remaining games, ensuring the Pac-10 gets only one BCS invite (USC); 2) Penn State beating Michigan State at home, eliminating a second Big Ten team in the event of ...; 3) Hell freezing over, 2008 edition - Michigan winning at Ohio State. The 3-8 Wolverines are a 21-point underdog. But the UM win, coupled with an MSU loss, eliminates the Big Ten from gaining a second entry, thus ensuring a second non-BCS team getting an at-large bid.

  • This notion that 'SC fans want another Rose Bowl is false. We want Oregon St to win out be co-Pac-10 champs and we want to go to the Fiesta and play a big 12 team or sugar and play an SEC team. We have nothing to gain by going to Pasadena and running over another big 10 team ala Illinois and Michigan the last 2 times. This is not only my feeling but the sentiments of the entire marching band and majority of a sports commentary course with knowledgeable USC and college football fans. They aren't making us nervous they're making us excited and anxious to see if we can avoid the Rose even if we don't play for the BCS title.

I get this, it's very sensible, but there is one trap with this line of thinking. USC might need to win the Pac-10 outright in the event of a stumble by the Big 12 South champ in the conference title game. Why? Because then if the Trojans are to get a favorable outcome from the voters for a spot in the BCS title game, they need to have the argument that they "won" the conference whereas Texas, Texas Tech or Oklahoma didn't. If USC and Oregon State are Pac-10 co-champions, the perception would be that USC didn't win the conference because the Beavers got the automatic Rose Bowl bid.

  • I absolutely love your Orange Bowl prediction.....ACC Champ vs. Big East Champ......

    As if to say, "who really cares about this game???"

    That's classic...we're not even gonna waste time guessing who these teams will be...they're just going to play each other in this meaningless BCS bowl game.

Yep. You read my mind.

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