360° Coverage : College Football's Playoff Problem

2 Updates

College Football's Playoff Problem

Mar 1 2014, 9:12am CST | by

In 2014, college football gets its long-awaited playoff. Four teams, two rounds, with a special selection comittee charged with naming the deserving schools. Their job will be, in a word, hard....

Filed under: news

 
 
 

26 weeks ago

College Football's Playoff Problem

Mar 1 2014, 9:12am CST | by

In 2014, college football gets its long-awaited playoff. Four teams, two rounds, with a special selection comittee charged with naming the deserving schools. Their job will be, in a word, hard. Being annointed No.4 (last team in) instead of No. 5 (first team out) by the commitee can be worth a ton of presitge to school, not to metnion more money (the bulk of the revenue from the 12-year deal with ESPN that pays an average of $500 million annually gets doled out equally across the FBS conferences, though some will be carved out to the participating teams. Not to mention – making it to the big final four football dance figures to do wonders for donor dollars and ticket sales).

So when six or seven teams look to be in the mix at season’s end, who do you pick? Exerting a lot of influence behind the scenes will be a staff of advanced metrics experts at ESPN, the powerful sports network that is now embracing analytics to such a degree that it’s become the title sponsor for the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analtics Conference in Boston, which just kicked off its 2014 two-day forum on Friday. The ESPN stat geek team didn’t exactly exude confidence in the committee’s expected ability to get it right.

While the 13-member committee is dotted with big names and lots of football pedigree – Wisconsin AD Barry Alavarez, former Nebraska head coach and AD Tom Osborne, retired Air Force Acadameny superidentent Lt. General Michael Gould and even former U.S. Secretary of State and Stanford professor/super fan Condoleezza Rice – the ESPN numbers crunchers voiced concern that all are over 50. That means they grew up in the college football world of polls and eye tests, not sophisticated sports data. How can we trust them to get it right?

The  ESPN staff has no formal control over the committee, but they’re planning to submit their numbers in order to help them out. And of course it’s their network that’s airing the games, so expect them to have some influence. And all in all, that’s probably a good thing. Here’s the gist of what the panel presented in Boston:

Picking the four best teams means going beyond the basics of won-lost record and strength of schedule. It means breaking down each game, quarter by quarter, to assess the level of domnence. For example, last year’s national champion, Florida State, would have been a deserving high seed in a playoff (some thought hey didn’t due to their less-than-stellar ACC schedule) not only for going 13-0 but by winning every game by at least 14 points. And particularly telling: the constant recalculation of a team’s odds of winning as a game progresses. In FSU’s case, the ESPN staff figured their average in-game odds of 84% for the season, thanks to so many big leads and statitistical dominance early in games. That means they typically had an 84% chance of winning at each point in each game during the season.  That metric eliminates the need for teams to run up scores against helpless opponents. Example: in one game last fall Florida State jumped out to an early 35-0 lead over North Carolina State before calling off the dogs and winning 49-17. The game gets classified as a “blowout win” regardless of the final score, thanks to the constant in-game tracking of the odds of winning.

Add up all the advanced stats for FSU and their  opponents for the season, and the analysts assert that an average team would have won seven games playing the Seminoles’ schedule, making their 13 wins genuinely impressive. Maybe even more interesting – the ESPN crew had numbers to support the view that Alabama, No. 1 and undefeated all year until a flukish, last second loss to Auburn in the regular season finale, didn’t deserve a spot in the final four. Given their so-so competition – strong SEC teams like Georgia and Missouri weren’t on the Tide’s schedule in 2013 – the advanced numbers show that a typical Top 25 team had a 36% chance of duplicating their record against the same schedule. That puts Alabama a tad behind Michigan State (30%) and Stanford (29%), who would have ostensibly joined Florida State and Auburn in a four team tournament.

As one ESPN panelist put it, no sport cries out for advanced analytics like college football, given its plethora of teams and conferences and its disparate schedule. Thannks to the coming playoff system, the battle of the new breed stat head vs. the traditionalist, brewing for awhile now in Major League Baseball, is about to hit its next frontier.

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
2

3 days ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) and slashing the workforce of ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

4 days ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedi ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Nigeria to get Japanese drug for Ebola treatment
Abuja, Sep 2 (IANS) Nigeria will soon get a Japanese drug to treat Ebola, the country's Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said Monday.
 
 
Japan to aid connectivity upgrade in northeast India
Tokyo, Sep 1 (IANS) India and Japan Monday decided to strengthen cooperation for improving connectivity and socio-economic development in northeastern states of India.
 
 
Three Ebola cases recorded in Nigeria oil hub
Abuja, Sep 1 (IANS) At least three cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been recorded in Nigeria's oil hub of Port Harcourt, where a fatality was confirmed last week, the country's Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu said here Monday.
 
 
India, Japan to elevate strategic partnership
Tokyo, Sep 1 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday said relations with Japan were of the "highest priority" for his government and announced a slew of initiatives, including turning the strategic partnership into a "special" partnership and a fast-track channel for Japanese investors.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Eight killed in France building collapse
Paris, Sep 2 (IANS/EFE) As many as eight people have died due to a building collapse in Paris till Monday, French emergency management services said. Firefighters had recovered before dawn Monday the bodies of two...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Modi focuses on women's empowerment, education
Tokyo, Sep 2 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday stressed on the need for women's empowerment in the present-day world as he began the fourth day of his visit to Japan. Modi, who was addressing students of the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
George Clooney's back pain continues
Los Angeles, Sep 2 (IANS) Almost 10 years after filming the Oscar-nominated movie "Syriana", actor George Clooney is still feeling the effects of his on-set back injury. The actor traveled to Duke University earlier...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Carrie Underwood is pregnant
Carrie Underwood is pregnant. The former 'American Idol' winner, 31, and husband Mike Fisher announced on Twitter tonight (09.01.14) that they're expecting their first child together. The blonde beauty posted a...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
50 Cent buys son miniature car
50 Cent bought his son a miniature car for his birthday. The 39-year-old rapper - whose real name is Curtis James Jackson - surprised Sire with a little Mercedes ML450 SUV, a smaller representation of his own vehicle,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kirsten Dunst criticises Apple for leaked photos
Kirsten Dunst has hit out at Apple after naked photographs of her were allegedly leaked online. The 32-year-old actress took to her Twitter account last night (09.01.14) to criticize the American multinational...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Daisy Lowe feels 'rubbish' without exercise
Daisy Lowe feels ''rubbish'' if she doesn't exercise at least three times a week. The 25-year-old model admits she maintains her enviable figure by working out on a regular basis, but she still enjoys tucking in to...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Paul Smith collaborates with Led Zeppelin
London, Sep 2 (IANS) British fashion designer Paul Smith has collaborated with legendary rock band Led Zeppelin for his latest scarf collection. The London-based designer has teamed-up with the band to create the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
US continues air strikes against IS in Iraq
Washington, Sep 2 (IANS) US forces continued their attack on Islamic State (IS) militants in northern Iraq with three more air strikes conducted Monday, the army said. The strikes destroyed three IS trucks and...
Read more on Politics Balla