Thursday, August 30, 2007

College Football: Pre Season "Rankings"

The college football season starts tonight, and it's time to get excited. It kind of sucks for me this year, as at the moment I have no Penn State tickets and a broken TV, but hopefully these situations will remedy themselves as the season progresses. Anyways, the past few weeks have had the airwaves inundated with preseason predictions and rankings, essentially telling us what's going to happen before a down is played. This practice is quite silly for obvious reasons, and if everyone was right (which they never are) then it would take all the fun out of college football. The startling part about this year's predictions is that pretty much everyone is at a consensus already. USC is winning the national championship in everyone's mind, and the Top 25 polls for both the AP and Coaches are nearly identical. I never remember a preseason in which rankings and predictions were so cut and dry. So I decided to experiment and make my own rankings - using facts and no opinions or biases.

No team has played a down of football in 2007, so we don't know anything about them yet. The only things that we absolutely know about are: what the team did last year, and how many players are coming back. So I devised a simple formula: 2006 wins X (2007 returning starters [including punter and kicker]/24). This gives an indication of how many "wins" are still on the team from the season before. It has nothing about the quality of the players coming back, the quality of the players that left, or the quality of the players taking their places, not to mention nothing about strength of schedule. So it's crude. It is meant to be an illustration of exactly how silly preseason rankings are, given how little we know about the 2007 versions of these teams:

1 Wisconsin
3 Boston College
4 West Virginia
5 Oklahoma
6 Oregon State
7 Louisville
8 Wake Forest
10 Hawaii
11 South Florida
12 Purdue
13 Virginia Tech
14 Houston
15 Boise State
16 Rutgers
17 LSU
18 Georgia Tech
19 Central Michigan
21 California
22 Kentucky
23 South Carolina
24 Western Michigan
25 Texas A&M

Other rankings of note:
28 Michigan
29 Auburn
31 Ohio State
32 Texas
34 Penn State
51 Florida

I think anyone with two brains about college football should know that this is not how the season will turn out. There are many teams in the Top 25 that have no business there, and many out that should be. So on Saturday, sit back and relax, and ignore those silly rankings, because they mean nothing yet.

As the season progresses, we will find out more and more, and so people will be able to put more educated rankings. I will contribute my own, as the Donati Scientific Rankings (DSR) will debut on Tuesday. Remember, they will be based on what we know, not what we predict.

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