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The BCS formula went through its yearly tweak this week, and lo and behold, we see it becoming increasingly reliant on those pesky human polls it was supposed to replace. The whole thing is kind of humorous, if you ask me.
Let's see, here's the sequence of events thus far:
1.) Humans create complex formula, including computer polls, so the all-important championship game isn't totally reliant on human polls.
2.) Humans get mad when formula doesn't match human perception of who the #1 and #2 teams are.
3.) Humans rework the formula to try to make it produce the results they thought it should produce.
4.) Repeat 2 and 3 to infinity.
Uh, excuse me, professor, but I have a question: If we keep tweaking the formula to try to pull it inline with what we think the #1 and #2 teams should be, then why have the formula at all? Why not just use the human polls, which after all, are what we think the #1 and #2 teams should be?
The latest iteration of the BCS almost does exactly that. It consists of three parts, all weighted equally: the AP poll, the USAT/ESPN coaches' poll, and the average of six computer rankings. As one commentator said, the new formula basically uses the computer rankings to break any ties or disagreements between the human polls.
Good show! That's how it should have been structured all along.
I haven't liked a single change made to the BCS over the years, until now. When they removed margin of victory from the computer polls, I thought that was a huge mistake. Everyone knows that how much you beat a team by is important, not just whether you beat them. You can't tell me that VT's 24-23 overtime victory against Temple in 2003 should count the same as VT's 62-7 thrashing of the Owls in 1999.
If you feel that you shouldn't reward teams for running up the score, then fine, cap the margin of victory at 20 points. But don't totally eliminate it. (tsk)
After that, it got sillier. Removing margin of victory put increased emphasis on strength of schedule (SOS). I didn't like that, but I could stomach it.
Then they added a new strength of schedule category.
Then they added a "quality wins" category, yet another de facto SOS calculation.
At this point, I thought they were going way overboard to emphasize strength of schedule. The proof was in the fact that if the 2003 formula been applied in 1999, the Hokies wouldn't have gone to the national championship game. And as any chimp with a TV can tell you, VT was definitely one of the top two teams in 1999. Shutting them out of the championship game by discounting their margins of victory and over-penalizing them for their weak strength of schedule would have been criminal (or what passes for criminal in the college football world -- well, sort of. Never mind, enough has been written about that lately).
The latest changes remove the explicit SOS calculation and "quality wins" component. Bravo! SOS is still there, in the human poll voters' minds and in the computer calculations. We don't need two more numbers that emphasize it thrown into the calculation.
Now, to make this new formula even better, let the computer programmers put margin of victory back into their calculations. Then I'll be happy.
Related link: BCS simplifies in hopes of finding new champion, USA Today
I'm still agog over the news that the 2004 Virginia Tech men's soccer recruiting class signed by Oliver Weiss was ranked #8 in the nation by College Soccer News. To say that the VT soccer program has gone from nowhere to squarely on the map since hiring Weiss is putting it mildly.
Weiss joined the Hokies in 2002 and led them to a 10-7-1 record, including a seventh-place 5-5 finish in the Big East. Okay, not bad, but nothing special.
Then the Hokies exploded in 2003, going to the NCAA tournament for the first time, finishing 14-5-3 and ending up ranked #21 in the nation by Soccer Times, and as high as #15 by Soccer America.
VT hosted a first-round NCAA game and in front of a record 2,263 fans, tied Clemson 3-3 and then beat them in a shootout, 6-5, to advance. In the second round, VCU beat the Hokies 5-2, ending the best season in VT men's soccer history.
With VT entering the ACC this fall, it's a sport with (as Bill Murray once said in Stripes) "massive potential for growth." As you know, it won't be easy for the Hokies in their new conference. In those College Soccer News rankings, there are six ACC teams in the top 10, and another in the top 16:
To close it out, future ACC member Boston College's class is ranked 28th.
Circle October 30th, 2004 on your calendars. That's the day that Virginia invades Blacksburg in the first-ever ACC contest between the two teams. Since starting up their soccer team in 1972, the Hokies are 0-22 against powerhouse Virginia, including losses by scores like 6-0, 7-0, 8-2, and 7-1. The last time the two teams played was 1999, a 2-1 Cavalier victory in Charlottesville.
For Hokies who have rightly admired Virginia's five-time NCAA champion program as a standard of excellence, the thought that the Hokies are gaining on them -- VT was ranked ahead of Virginia in some polls at the end of last season -- is proof of how far Weiss has brought the VT program. On 10/3/04, the Hokies get to see if they've caught the Cavaliers.
Granted, Virginia isn't what they were when Bruce Arena was coaching them, but still, a victory over the Cavs would mark a watershed moment in VT soccer history.
We're gradually folding a new site format into TechSideline.com, one that is evolutionary, not revolutionary. The new format includes small navigational links across the top of each page, designed to ease navigation throughout the site.
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|TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week|
Up On Summer News
Silence is Not Golden, and Other Thoughts
AAU Basketball: A Primer (Part 1)
Hokie Fans Have Had Enough of Vick
Suspensions Handed Down for Vick, Hill, Imoh
Marcus Vick Arrested for Reckless Driving, Possession of Marijuana
Hanging With the New Commish
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