Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rankings through October 16th

Another week, another defeat for a #1 team. We still have a lot of football to play, and plenty of undefeated teams left. The first official BCS Standings for the year are released tonight, and much attention will rightly be paid to these rankings to see who has the proverbial pole position to possibly reach the championship game.

Meanwhile, check out Fuzzy math by the BCS by Jon Solomon, bringing to light some of the potential problems with the fact that most of the computer systems used by the BCS are black boxes. Don't get me wrong, I think that the service provided by the authors of these systems should be rewarded (and not just with the hate mail they all get). Colley and Massey once did me the favor of speaking at a minisymposium at a math conference, and I know they do this out of love of the game. But the built-in verification that would come with greater transparency would be most welcome.

As an aside, regarding the actual error of changing team lists noted in the article, we made the same error at a bookkeeping level last week. That is, our current calculations here are independent of such lists because we work on the full connected component of teams connected to one another by games played. But when we sent in our lists of FBS and FCS teams to Kenneth Massey, he caught that we didn't send him the correct lists. It's a completely understandable error, demonstrating the value of the verification that would come with greater transparency.

In the plots below, the order of the undefeated teams jumbles around as you vary p, the bias parameter value. Full "Random Walker FL" rankings of the FBS and FCS for the week will be posted on Kenneth Massey's College Football Ranking Comparison.

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