A few days ago, I wondered aloud on these boards as to what it would take to pass Boise St. No one seems to give Utah much of a shot, but no one defines why, other than stating Utah won’t pass Boise St. in the polls.
I think most people (ESPN, & their clones) really don’t understand how the system works, and that is just a convenient quick answer.
While it might be ‘mostly right’…they just spit it out, because someone smarter than them told them that’s the answer…but there is little understanding as to why.
P.S. I hate ESPN & their ‘personalities’…I think very few of them are journalists (Craig James, Mark May, etc).
So here’s my theory on ‘the real reason’ it will be difficult for Utah to pass Boise St. I’ve tried to educate myself on the system, but I recognize that I still lack a lot of information about how the various computer systems work…so I know I still lack a bigger picture understanding, and welcome any additional commentary to help me understand the system.
In years past, the computers have favored the MWC to a large degree over the WAC.
Just using Sagarin’s archives for conference strength as a reference, here are some composites from years that teams from the MWC or WAC have made the BCS.
2006 WAC @ 63.88
2006 MWC @ 68.34
2008 WAC @ 63.91
2008 MWC @ 70.90
2009 WAC @ 65.46
2009 MWC @ 70.92
…so on average, the MWC conference schedule boosts the MWC team’s computer rankings by about 5-7% over Boise St. That could make for as much as a .1300 (Utah’s lead over Boise St. in 2008) advantage in the computers…meaning that not only would Boise St. have to be ranked above that team, but by more than just a few hundred votes.
So everyone assumes that the range would be about that again this year…
…but it’s not so…
So let’s look at Sagarin’s conference rankings for this year, which should be pretty stable with the bulk of OOC games having been played
2010 WAC @ 69.82
2010 MWC @ 70.93
Couple that with a Boise St. OOC that is comparable, or possibly even better than Utah & TCU, and whatever supposed computer advantage that was there in years past has, for the most part dried up. We might still gain the advantage over Boise St. in the computers (if Pitt, Notre Dame & Iowa St. continue to win), but at most just 1 spot, rather than the 2-3 that it had been in years past.
Blame BYU & New Mexico for their ineptitude. I don’t know that we could have expected Wyoming or UNLV to win their games…but those losses to Utah St. & New Mexico St. really hurt our conferences overall strength.
…at best, I think we could hope for is a .0600 boost (TCU’s lead over Boise St. in 2009), but even that isn’t guaranteed. There’s just not enough of a separation of conferences to assume that the computers will favor Utah over Boise St.
In reality, the polls are what would allow a team like Utah/TCU to pass Boise St., since it is not strictly the ranking that affects the position of the team, but rather the points accrued from all of those voters…so in essence, a #3 team with 1500 voter points is actually no different from a #4 team with 1499 voter points.
Currently Boise St. has .0600 percentage lead in the Harris, and about a .0700 in the Coaches, for a total lead of .1300 over TCU.
Now I would expect this lead to shrink, as (my opinion) Boise St. & TCU/Utah will get bundled together. Either they both get jumped or neither will get jumped, but it won’t happen separately. If Utah manages to knock off TCU, they may even get a bump higher with Notre Dame being on tv the following week, in terms of voter points than TCU could have gotten.
I would couple that with a possible Pac-10 coaches bias, and the percentages will be relatively close. As stated earlier, we’d need that percentage to be within a total of .0600.
So what we (Utah) need now, is hype. I think a lot of that will be generated by the TCU game…but what we need more is a thorough beating of Notre Dame, where everyone can see it…NBC. So as a Utah fan, we need to start lobbying these talking heads, and getting TV exposure, to make up much needed ground on Boise St. We don’t have to pass Boise St…but we need to come darn close to it.
Any other thoughts?