Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trust the Voters

Greetings, all. My essay/stats posts will be a bit thin these next few weeks – I’m getting ready for a big stats post that will be up sometime between the end of the regular season & the start of the bowls.

As for where things stand right now, with Penn State’s loss it looks like the BCS might actually work this year. But while other writers and bloggers might be warning you that it won’t last, and that the worst is yet to come, and that the BCS is the worst thing since sliced bread, let me sooth you with these simple words: the voters get it right. They always have, and they probably always will. Why is this important? Because the voters now have 2/3 of the power in the BCS, as they have for three years. And that’s more than enough to override the computers should the need arise. Let’s take a look back, shall we?

In 1998, the voters wanted Tennessee & Florida State – they got it and Tennessee won. Good call.
In 1999, they wanted Florida State and Virginia Tech – good call.
In 2000 they wanted Miami (FL) to go with Oklahoma, but got Florida State again. The Seminoles lost badly to the Sooners. Good call.
In 2001 they wanted Miami (FL) & Oregon, rather than Colorado or Nebraska. Miami (FL) killed Nebraska, and Oregon killed Colorado. Good call.
2002 was Ohio State and Miami (FL) – easy call.
In 2003 they wanted USC & LSU, not Oklahoma. LSU pounded Oklahoma while USC destroyed Michigan. Good call.
In 2004, they wanted USC & Oklahoma, leaving Auburn out. Auburn squeaked past Virginia Tech, while the Trojans mauled the Sooners. Good call? Sure – someone had to be left out.
2005 was USC vs Texas – easy call.
2006 Ohio State was the only undefeated, but the voters chose Florida as their test at #2. The voters got it right when the Gators beat the Buckeyes down. Good call.
And in 2007, Ohio State was the only one-loss, but they were highly suspect. LSU looked to be the second best and the voters had the sense to jump them all the way up to #2. The Tigers proved it was the right choice when they beat Ohio State in the national championship game. Good call.

Ten years of the BCS, ten good calls by the voters. So whatever happens in the next four weeks, take solace in the fact that the voters have power. Not only do they make the right calls, but they now have the ability to make the matchup that a majority of the country wants to see under the BCS system. So take a deep breath and know that even if your team is shut out, the voters will get it right.


Solon said...

With all due respect, simply alleging that the voters made a "good call" does not make it so.

It seems the many of your evidences that the voters made a good call are that the #1 team won the game. This would stand to reason, if the voters did not choose the actual #2 team.

To illustrate:
1998: Ohio State and Florida State had similar resumes. Both had lost to a vastly inferior opponent, although Ohio State had been competitive in its loss. The consensus was that the Big 10 was a better conference than the ACC that season. The primary reason for FSU being in the title game was that there loss was earlier. This was, by any objective measure, a bad call.

2000: Well, of course Oklahoma beat Florida State, that Florida State team was inferior to Miami. If you argue we should compare the scores against FSU relative to one another that leads to a problem with...

2001: Yes, Miami annihilated Nebraska. Not surprising, since Colorado has just done it, and then themselves got annihilated by Oregon.

2007: If your test criteria is that LSU defeated Ohio State and therefore "deserved" to be in the game, they couldn't have gone wrong here, since there are about 10 teams they could have put in that spot who would have handled Ohio State.

I could go on, and outside of 1999, 2005, and 2006 make strong arguments against what the voters gave us.

This post just does not make any sense to me. An uncompetitive title game matchup does not make it a "good call" by the voters, it makes it the opposite.

The truth is the BCS fails as often as it succeeds.

Ed Gunther said...

I appreciate the comment, Solon, but you're missing the point. I'm not saying that the BCS works - I'm saying that had the BCS rankings been chosen strictly by voters alone things probably would've worked out a lot better than they did.

So with that in mind, 1998 & 2007 don't matter because the voters agreed with the overall BCS rankings. In 2000, the voters wanted Miami instead of Florida State - logically, since both Oklahoma & Miami beat Florida State, it's safe to assume that an Oklahoma vs Miami matchup would be more competitive than the Oklahoma vs Florida State game which we know sucked.

Same thing in 2001. Since Miami crushed Nebraska, and Oregon crushed Colorado, logically Miami vs Oregon, the matchup that the voters wanted, would've been a better choice. Sure we're employing hindsight, but why shouldn't we? There's nothing wrong with taking that information into account.

As for 2007, sure another team might have beaten Ohio State as bad as LSU did, but they might have lost too. The fact is that LSU is seen as an acceptable champion, so while there might have been other right possibilities, we know that the LSU choice was a good one.

I'd argue that the title matchups we saw in the years where the voters and BCS rankings disagreed were the uncompetitive ones, and that they would've been more competitive had the voters been given the power they have now earlier. No, the BCS doesn't get it right all the time, but they did a lot to alleviate title game controversy by giving more power to the voters.