Saturday, October 8, 2011

What do these even mean?

Top 25. Power Rankings. RPI. Seeds. BCS.

The worst part of sports is that at some point, there is a limit. There are only so many games that can be played. Bodies wear down. Fans get bored. Apathy sets in.

Which is why there is so much dispute in sports, specifically in college football. Every week I look up the current Top 25, without actually knowing what "Top 25" even means. Does it mean that these are the 25 best teams? That #1 would beat #2, #2 would beat #3, #3 would beat #4, ect?

Or does it mean that these are the 25 most deserving teams. The 25 most accomplished teams. Maybe LSU is the best team in the country, but what if (hypothetically) LSU had beaten 6 directional schools ("they just have a lineage of sucking"), while SMU beat 5 directional schools and pulled an upset over a championship contender (let's say Oklahoma). Should SMU be ranked higher?

It's all very confusing. In college basketball, we have a nice little tournament to clear things up at the top. But how are we supposed to decide in college football?

Sure we get great matchups every week like Oklahoma vs. Texas in a few hours that helps to clear things up, but how do we decide who to rank higher between Wisconsin and Boise State? Or to make things worse, how do we decide between a 2-2 Texas A&M (losses to Arkansas and Oklahoma State) and 5-0 Illinois. I'm pretty sure Texas A&M could beat those scrappy fighting Illini (although with the Zooker, you never know what's going to happen), but does that mean they should be ranked ahead of them?

I'm personally in favor of rewarding teams for accomplishments, but not punishing teams so much for losing to great teams. Let me explain.

If Team A is ranked number 1 and Team B is ranked number 25, why should a close loss knock Team B out of the top 25. Does Team A winning change anything we think about these two teams? Of course not. In fact, if Team A barely wins, I would argue that Team B should move up in the rankings. Why can't a close loss show that you're actually a better team than what we originally thought?

At the end of the day, we all know that rankings are driven by money, and that'll never change. Top 25 rankings shouldn't even exist till halfway through the season, but we need those great matchups (on paper) to get fans to turn on the TV. And you don't think coaches take advantage of the ambiguity to get their conference teams in the Championship game? More bowl games means more money for the conference.

Poor Boise State. There are just too many holes in the system.

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