This is the first of a three-part series sponsored by Samsung involving the use of technology in sports.
With all the talk about the BCS Standings this week -- and how they might keep Wisconsin out another BCS bowl game -- we thought we would take a look at the top five reasons why the BCS computer rankings are flawed.
Let's preface this by mentioning that there are a few components of the computer rankings that do work. For instance, strength of schedule is important and should be factored into how good a team is perceived to be.
In addition, the human polls aren't perfect either. One AP voter still has Ohio State ranked seven spots higher than the Badgers, despite Wisconsin beating the Buckeyes two weeks ago. Fortunately, the AP Poll is not factored into the BCS. Unfortunately, the coaches' poll is, despite those coaches spending most of their Saturday worrying about their own team and not watching the other 118 schools that play football.
The whole system is flawed, but I have a big problem with robots determining which schools get to play in the BCS National Championship. With that said, I present to you the top five reasons why a computer should not be telling me who is good at football:
5. Computers don't watch football. They don't break down film. They don't compare matchups, style of play, e.t.c. Some teams don't matchup well against other teams and they end up losing. Does that mean that team isn't good? Leave that up to a human to decide.
4. Computers don't know how good a coaching staff is. Some might consider this to be a stretch, but humor me for a second. I'm still not sold that Michigan State has more talent on its team than Wisconsin, Iowa or Ohio State. But guess what? I don't think there is a coaching staff in the country that has had a better season than MSU's. The Spartans aren't guaranteed anything if they stay undefeated. They could easily lose out on the National Championship to Auburn, Oregon, TCU or Boise State. Heck, even a one-loss Alabama team could pass them. Who knows what these computers might do? But I believe on one night, in one game, Michigan State can devise a plan to beat any of those teams and execute it to near-perfection. That would be reason No. 1,282,457 why there should be playoffs in college football.
3. Injuries. This might be a very specific example, but it presents a situation where the computers would be pretty useless in a pretty important situation. What happens if Cam Newton tears his ACL in the SEC Championship Game after he builds a 21-0 lead that the Tigers barely hold on to? Is Auburn still worthy of playing in the National Championship without him? Many would argue that they would still deserve it -- which, in this current system, they probably would -- but what would those same people say after the Tigers get blown out by Oregon in the title game?
2. The computers don't factor in margin-of-victory. I actually understand the reasons why the computers don't use margin-of-victory, but that doesn't mean it is right. Sometimes how badly you beat a team matters. Sometimes it doesn't. Does it matter if Ohio State beats Purdue 31-0 or 49-0? Not really. A human can easily realize that Ohio State won the game soundly and didn't struggle. Those extra 18 points shouldn't matter, so kudos to the computers for ignoring them. On the flip side, shouldn't it matter that Wisconsin beat Ohio State pretty soundly 31-18? Shouldn't it matter that the Badgers never trailed against the No. 1 team in the country and that it didn't take a fluke, last second play to steal the win?
The bottomline is only a human can decipher how well one team beat another and if it the margin of victory mattered or not.
1. Intangibles. A loss is a loss in my books, but since we aren't using a system where one game between two teams decides who gets to play for it all, shouldn't timing, weather, location, e.t.c matter? Let's take a look at Iowa's loss to Arizona earlier in year. The Wildcats aren't the No. 1 in the nation by any means, but on that very warm September night, was there a more unwelcoming place to play a football game in the entire country? It was nearly 100 degrees at kickoff in a desert two timezones away. We've also seen games where a much inferior team that loves to run the football beats a much better pass-happy team because there are sheets of rain coming down. Heck, a game between Wisconsin and UNLV was abbreviated because the lights shutdown in the fourth quarter.
Does a computer take into account any of these events or situations? So why are they telling me who is good at football and who isn't?