Friday, October 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

How will college football panel pick top teams?

Oliver Luck

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, AUG. 9-10 - FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2011 file photo, West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck speaks during a press conference in Morgantown, W.Va. As the playoff era begins, 13 people will be in charge of choosing the best four teams in the country to play in the first national semifinals. (AP Photo/David Smith, File)

By
From page B3 | August 10, 2014 |

Might as well call it Mission: Impossible.

Starting in mid-October, a panel of 13 football experts will begin meeting once a week to determine the four teams who will compete for the national championship in the very first College Football Playoff. Their goal is to choose the four best teams in the nation at the end of the regular season.

But how does someone answer a question for which there will almost always will be more than one correct answer?

“We need both faith and reason,” said committee member and West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck. “We have to use our logical skills and the deductive skills that the people in that room have. But the college football world needs a little bit of faith that we all check our pasts at the door and we go about this in a very straightforward and honest manner.”

Where the College Football Playoff has the Bowl Championship Series beat is simply the number four. Twice as many teams will now enter the postseason with a chance to win the national championship. Most fans agree this is progress over an old system were deserving teams were left out.

How will the new panel decide on top teams? Will so-called great teams still be left out? As its first season unfolds, the group could create an all-new set of questions about whether the process works.

THE HUMAN ELEMENT

The biggest change in the process is that people — not computer rankings — are solely in charge of teams’ fates. So the panel will have to learn how to effectively debate, compromise and even account for bias.

“This small number of human beings sitting across the table from each other can evaluate nuances to a much greater degree than the old system could,” said Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff. “There can be give and take. There can be questions and answers. That element just wasn’t a part of the old system.”

The down side of that is with so few people, if there is bias in the room it can have a greater impact on the final decision. If someone consistently overrates the importance of offense over defense, for example, that can affect the process more so than when the teams were chosen by more than 100 voters in Harris and coaches’ polls.

“With 13 people, if somebody really has it in their head that no matter what South Carolina is not that good, if one person votes them No. 15 even if everybody else has them around the top four, they’re probably not going to get in,” said Bill Connelly, a writer for SB Nation whose statistical rating system called F+ can be found at www.footballoutsiders.com .

On Oct. 21, the committee will release its first weekly rankings, a top 25 that will allow fans to see what the panel is collectively thinking down the stretch of the season.

Hancock has said the weekly rankings were a nod to college football tradition, and transparency. The ranking give fans a way to assess to some degree where teams stand in the championship race and they shine light on the process.

Maybe a little too much light?

“The obsession with transparency drives me crazy,” Connelly said. “I get the idea that it’s good to know how somebody came up with what they come up with, but they have gone overboard. It’s going to make it a far more painful process for them.”

Dave Bartoo, a data analyst, consultant and founder of www.cfbmatrix.com , said he anticipates the selection committee will rank teams similarly to other poll panels. Traditionally, college football poll voters tend to create tiers based on the number of loses and wins and adjust the teams within those tiers, making some alterations to account for perceived schedule strength.

“I feel that’s what should happen because they (the committee) don’t have enough information to do any better than the people who have been doing it,” Bartoo said.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

The committee has been instructed to place an emphasis on strength of schedule, head-to-head matchups and conference championships.

Strength of schedule has become a particular buzz phrase this offseason, with coaches and conferences already touting the virtues of their lineup.

Bartoo said it’s misguided to emphasize strength of schedule because calculating it accurately is not possible, no matter how it’s done.

“A lot of people want to believe that strength of schedule is a valid stat for separating teams,” he said. “It’s not the best one or the worst one. They are all about a coin flip.”

There are not enough data points in college football to make a good sample size to study strength of schedule because teams play so few games and the best teams rarely play each other, Bartoo said.

ANALYZING THE DATA

The committee will have a virtual bank vault full of data at their fingertips, provided by a company called SportsSource Analytics, to help them judge teams.

Bartoo is concerned about information overload and the committee using numbers that have not been properly vetted.

“Who is helping with oversight on that?” he said. “Can the playoff committee call me? ‘We think this metric is valuable, can you back test it for that?'”

The BCS taught college football fans there is no perfect way of picking the best teams. That won’t change with the College Football Playoff.

“They will do the best they can and I’m confident they’ll pick the best four teams,” Hancock said. “Some other group of 13 people might come up with different teams, but our group will spend a season evaluating teams unlike any other group with fall. More time watching video and analyzing data than any other group.

“But I certainly know that another group of 13 might come up with something different.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

For sale: Solano home with Nike missile bunkers

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Salvation Army debuts giant kettle for holidays campaign

By Robinson Kuntz | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Industrial space hot, office not in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

New survey details vast scope of teen dating abuse

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Boosters seek to keep Bay Bridge light display

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Video shows bikers taunting California officer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
California man guilty in wife’s stabbing death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Brown opens up spending in campaign’s final month

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Driver attacked after ice cream truck kills boy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

$50,000 reward to find killer of Anaheim girl, 9

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Suspect in girl’s 1984 killing was police employee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

PTSD argued in case of Marine jailed in Mexico

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
US tech firm fined for underpaying Indian workers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Paintings in national parks spark probe, furor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Prisoner in Afghanistan to be tried in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

US, SKorea agree to delay wartime control transfer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
US officials: Iraqi army regrouping slowly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Gary killings put spotlight on abandoned buildings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Lawmakers seek to end benefits to former Nazis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

For teen with passport, Syria trip can be seamless

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Border deaths drop to 15-year low

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Canada gunman wanted a passport to go to Mideast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NYC mayor: Don’t be alarmed by doctor’s Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

NK experts: US must apologize to free detainees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ebola: A crash course in fear and how it hurts us

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Cremation fears leave empty Ebola beds in Liberia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Ex-Mountie hero of shooting at Canada’s Parliament

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

NY doctor back from Guinea has Ebola, 1st in city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

Not sure I trust government on Ebola

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Planning Commission not listening to the people

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

.

Living

.

Entertainment

Review: ‘John Wick’ delivers non-stop action

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Sports

At 1-all, World Series moves to quirky Giants park

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Giants’ Hudson to face Royals’ Guthrie in Game 3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

College notebook: Cordes chosen to try out for USA national team

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Realign the Bulldogs? Not a good a idea

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

Judge questions $75M NCAA concussion settlement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Arizona men near-unanimous pick by media to win Pac-12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Raiders may lose Woodley to biceps injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
No. 6 Oregon looks to extend streak against Cal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

The Write Way: KC coach’s lineup cards are artful

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Homecoming still on but no game for VCS

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

Compton among PGA leaders at Sea Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Steve Nash ruled out for season with back injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Manning, Sanders lead Broncos past Chargers, 35-21

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
Prep football capsules: Week 8

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
This date in sports history for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

.

Business

Honda Fit becomes even more intriguing small car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Letting your car find a spot and park itself

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Zuckerberg speaks Chinese, Beijing students cheer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

 
Cloud business lifts Microsoft’s quarterly results

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

A blue Christmas for Amazon?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Mark Dean Lindsay

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9