Saturday, August 29, 2009

IC Rankings, Preseason

As the new college sports season starts, I want to introduce a Rankings system I developed a few years ago. I start out by ranking teams in the reverse order and going forward from there ranking them according to the same patterns that I have observed in the Coaches' Poll for much of the past 15 or so years. I'll go into the nerd talk and what IC stands for in the next few paragraphs. Those who don't care, just skip the italicized and check out the rankings. Just don't come crying when they don't look "right."

The idea for these rankings developed somewhere around 2004. The 2004 season was significant for a few reasons. It was the only season in the BCS era where three major conference teams finished the regular season undefeated. Purdue's four regular season losses were by a combined 10 points. I realized after the season that even had the Boilermakers won those four games, they would have suffered the same fate as Auburn and been left out of the dust. Also, in 2004, I was taking differential equations at Purdue and learned the significance of an initial condition. It was then I realized that the Coaches' poll can be approximated as a differential equation with the preseason rankings as an initial condition. Ooooh... nerd talk. I warned you.

I'll give a basic example of a differential equation. Timmy starts driving west at 60 mph for 200 miles. Where does he finish driving? The answer, of course, depends on where Timmy started driving. If he started driving in Kansas City, that is your initial condition and you can now figure out where he ended. Now, how on earth does this apply to the Coaches' poll?

Each week after week one, the Coaches' poll typically moves teams up or down from their previous ranking based on whether they lost or didn't lose. Some exceptions occur for big wins, but that is the general trend. So, if a team ranked #1 in the preseason ranking, as USC was in 2004, they can go undefeated and make the BCS Championship game. This does not hold true for somebody outside of the top two in the preseason rankings (see unranked Auburn in 2004). So "IC" stands for initial condition and the rankings are simply developed to make a point about the significance and lunacy of preseason polls based on nothing but hype and program prestige helping to decide a national championship.

Without further ado, here are this year's preseason rankings, the bottom 25 teams from last year's FEI Ratings.

  1. North Texas
  2. Idaho
  3. Washington State
  4. Washington
  5. San Diego State
  6. New Mexico State
  7. Tulane
  8. Western Kentucky
  9. Texas A&M
  10. Florida International
  11. Utah State
  12. Wyoming
  13. Hawaii
  14. SMU
  15. Indiana
  16. Louisiana Monroe
  17. Iowa State
  18. San Jose State
  19. Toledo
  20. Miami U.
  21. Army
  22. Louisiana Tech
  23. Eastern Michigan
  24. Florida Atlantic
  25. Arkansas State
Also recieving votes: Louisiana Lafayette, UAB, Middle Tennessee, UNLV, Kansas State, UCLA, Kent State, Syracuse, Mississippi State, Colorado, Colorado State, New Mexico, Fresno State

Let the games begin!

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