Then there is Richard Billingsley. Though he’s a stress-management expert for a living, Billingsley...
Then there is Richard Billingsley. Though he’s a stress-management expert for a living, Billingsley follows his passion for college football in obsessive ways. Starting in 1970, he set out to name a national champion for every season dating back to 1869, when Princeton and Rutgers split the two games played. His institutional history of college football is unquestioned. There’s just one snag.
"I’m not a mathematician," Billingsley said.
A nonmathematician who uses a numbers-based formula to rank teams. A nonmathematician who, accordingly, uses the previous year’s rankings as a starting point for the next year’s, even if a school graduates its quarterback, running back and middle linebacker, and loses its coach.
"I don’t know that the powers that be even know what he’s doing," Stern said. "I’m not saying he’s bad. But … he’s bad. It’s clear it’s not what the BCS should be doing."
Billingsley is unrepentant about using the previous season’s results. He believes the past portends the future, even if the past is now playing in the NFL. The other computer systems that use preseason rankings take into account graduations, recruiting classes, and coaching changes – everything that matters.
"I’m not even a highly educated man, to tell you the truth," Billingsley said. "I don’t even have a degree. I have a high school education. I never had calculus. I don’t even remember much about algebra. I think everyone questions everything I do. Why is he doing that? Does he know what he’s doing, a crazy kook in Oklahoma? I had a guy tell me in an email once that I’m a crazy Oklahoma hillbilly. Well, it’s true, but it has nothing to do with my ranking skills.