Aug 26, 2010

VERY EXCITING Thursday Links

Just kidding, not too exciting.

First of all, we're only a week away from college football, so I guess that is pretty exciting.  I might even start making some last-minute posts about the season if I find the time.

But for now, I ask that you visit this link HERE.  It's a new, experimental website called The Sports Poll, which is exactly what it sounds like: a place where people can vote in sports-related polls (primarily college football for now).  So please try it out, vote in the polls, bookmark it, and share it with your friends, because I'm hoping it would be a cool resource for sports fans (especially college football fans) during the season to see what others think.  And feel free to send me an e-mail or leave comments with any suggestions you have.

So once again: visit The Sports Poll

Second, check out this very neat UGA preseason video from Cn3909.  It pairs two great things: Georgia football and the Inception soundtrack.  My only problem with it is "the scene of the crime" thing toward the end, because it doesn't exactly help Georgia's recent reputation with the law.  Otherwise, good video.

Aug 17, 2010

Some Interesting Links for a Tuesday...

First, Ivan Maisel of ESPN wrote a piece yesterday on his top 20 Heisman candidates for 2010. I understand that QBs and RBs are the most likely Heisman winners, so it's no surprise that they make up almost the whole list. But Maisel includes two wide receivers, Julio Jones at #18 and Notre Dame's Michael Floyd at #19, but.... no mention of A.J. Green. How exactly does Jones make the list with only 596 yards and 4 touchdowns last season, but Green doesn't? I'm hoping Maisel just overlooked this, but I have a feeling that isn't the case. I can understand leaving Green off the list... but only if there are no other receivers included.

Second, take a look at this ESPN writeup. You may notice that it compares Mark Richt and Les Miles, perhaps implying that both coaches (not just Miles) are on the "hot seat." Interesting. But then notice the author on the ESPN page. Yes, that is Andrea Adelson, the same writer from the Orlando Sentinel who infamously ranked UGA #64 in her preseason rankings released in July (the page credits the rankings to Jeremy Fowler, but in the comments below you can see Adelson confess that she compiled them). Apparently her outrageous rankings warranted a promotion.

(Here's a link to see more of those ridiculous Orlando Sentinel rankings. Apparently, UGA will not be as good as Army (#44), Temple (#45), or Ohio (#50). But the rest of the rankings are even worse.)

Aug 12, 2010

How to Read the Unbiased Ranking: Over/Under rated Teams

So my Unbiased Top 35 may have confused quite a few people who thought it was supposed to serve as a substitute for the USA Today or AP Preseason Polls. It isn't. The Unbiased Ranking was just an experiment to point out some of the biases and undue hype that are present in the poll voting system.

In other words, it shows us how the polls would look if a computer put it together with no human intuition or analytical ability. Clearly, this isn't how our polls should work.

But the Unbiased Top 35 does give us some insight into the hype and bias of media and fans.

First, let's look and see which teams appear much higher in the USA Today Coaches' Poll than in the Unbiased Ranking.

1. Florida
- #3 in USA Today, #13 in Unbiased.
Florida is still receiving plenty of credit for a phenomenal last two years (as well as their national championship in 2006). They may deserve a high ranking based on past success, but losing Tim Tebow, their leading receivers, and many stars on defense, it may be a little too early to put them in the top 5. The Unbiased Ranking shows this with a more modest ranking.

Fun stat: Florida loses their Heisman quarterback, 33% of rushing yards, a whopping 73% of receiving yards, and over half (50%) of total defensive production.

2. Oklahoma
- #8 in USA Today, #20 in Unbiased.
An 8-5 team that finished unranked in the final 2009 polls, yet jumps to top 10 the next season? Yes, Oklahoma has been a top program, but they also lose more than you know going into 2010.
Fun Stat: OU loses 45.4% of rushing production, plus about a third of defensive production

3. North Carolina
- #18 in USA Today, Unranked in Unbiased.
First of all, North Carolina should likely appear in anyone's Top 35. The only reason they're absent from the Unbiased Ranking is because UNC didn't receive any votes in the final AP poll from 2009, therefore were ineligible. But this fact itself is telling. How does a team that finished 8-5, losing their last 2 games, and finishing with zero votes for the final polls appear at #18 in the preseason? Not to mention they're ahead of other 8-5 teams with much better resumes. You decide, but part of me wonders if the big opener vs. LSU doesn't factor into the UNC hype a little.

4. Arkansas
- #19 in USA Today, #31 in Unbiased Ranking.
Yes, Arkansas returns an exciting offense and could challenge in the SEC West. But once again, how does a team that finished #39 in the 2009 AP Poll jump to #19 so quickly? That's 20 spots they jumped during one off-season. Sounds to me like the Ryan Mallett hype is carrying Arkansas pretty high.

Now let's take a look at a few teams that appear to be UNDER rated.

1. Cincinnati
-Unranked in USA Today, #12 in Unbiased Ranking.
Yes, #12 does sound like a high ranking for a team that loses half of it's QB production in Tony Pike and got destroyed by the Gators in the Sugar Bowl. But does a team that won the Big East Championship twice in the past 2 years really deserve to go unranked? Other than Pike, their losses aren't too heavy, and Cincy should easily contend to be the best in the Big East again. Also, notice that Cincinnati was unranked in the preseason in 2009 as well, despite being Big East Champs the year before. The Bearcats, and the Big East in general, can't get a break from the media, coaches, or fans.

2. Texas Tech
-Unranked in USA Today, #15 in Unbiased Ranking.
The Red Raiders went a respectable 9-4 in 2009 with wins over Nebraska and Oklahoma. They lose practically nothing on offense, and little on defense. Yet Texas Tech isn't present in the USA Today Coaches' Poll at all? Well, they are, but only receiving 5 votes. That puts them at #44. Where's the respect for Texas Tech?

Hopefully this helps to explain the use of the Unbiased Top 35.

Aug 10, 2010

College Football News Ranks UGA at.... #3!?!?!?

Don't believe me? Click HERE.

About 99% of me is expecting this to change soon, and it will be revealed that this was all a mistake. But then again, they do predict a 10-2 record and say UGA is a sleeper for the national championship.

I know most people will laugh at this ranking. An 8-5 team being #3? But wait a second... the USA Today Coaches' Poll already ranked 8-5 Oklahoma at #8... where was the outrage over that? If the Sooners can have high expectations after a down year, why can't Georgia?

Aug 9, 2010

The 2010 Unbiased Preseason Top 35


It's finally here.

Back during the boredom of the 2009 off-season, I started looking into preseason polls and rankings. Everyone loves to use the terms "overrated" and "underrated" to describe teams each year that are either ranked too high or too low during the preseason. It also seems that every year, a few teams receive undue hype from the media and appear very high in preseason rankings, only to quickly drop once the season (and reality) begins.

It isn't a secret that the biases of the media (and fans) lead to unearned expectations before the college football season begins. So how can we see where teams SHOULD be ranked preseason, based on their results from 2009 and looking objectively toward 2010?

I propose that it can be done, and it might prove to be more accurate to reality than the media/coaches' polls.

The Basics

When evaluating a team from one season to the next, what can you look at? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is how the team performed last season. So you look at the team's final record and, likely, where they finished in the polls. (This immediately injects a bit of media bias into the formula since we're using media polls, but generally, the FINAL polls (being based on RESULTS) are much more accepted than preseason polls.)

The next obvious thing to look at is what is changing on each team from last year to this year. You can look at what each team is gaining, based on obscure (and biased) recruiting rankings, but that would further inject bias into your evaluation. So instead, you choose to focus on LOSSES. You can accurately view and calculate what each team loses from last year's production, based on statistics of player performance. Most easily, you can see the number of starters being lost to the NFL or graduation. More in depth, you can calculate the exact percentage of offensive yards and touchdowns, or defensive tackles, sacks, and interceptions that are lost by each team.

These losses can be used to penalize teams in rankings, and to gain a much more accurate view of how a team might perform in 2010. At the very least, you'll see a much fairer list of how teams should be ranked before the season begins, without the hype and bias of media/fans.

Below is an explanation of the formula I used for creating this unbiased ranking. It's pretty complicated and full of numbers, so if you aren't interested in the stats, skip below to the rankings.

The Formula

The formula for determining the Unbiased Pre-season Top 35 can be described in 6 steps.

1. First, I took the final Associated Press Top 25 poll from 2009 which can be found HERE. I added the teams listed as "Others receiving votes" to the top 25 based on the number of votes received, so Oklahoma at #26, Oregon State at #27, and so on until #40 Villanova.

2. I researched the total number of starters on offense, defense and special teams that were departing from each of those top 40 teams. The total number of starters lost is added to the final AP Poll rank of each team, and then teams are ranked by the lowest number. For example, Ohio State was ranked in the AP Poll at #5, and loses 9 starters. This brings them to a Final Value of 14.

3. Third, I started to get to the real numbers. I designed a quarterback value to determine how important the QB was to each team's success in 2009. Teams that do not lose their starting QB (or the person responsible for all or the vast majority of passing yards/TDs) will not be penalized. For teams that DO lose their quarterbacks, the QB value is determined by: number of years that the QB started, and the QB rating of that player from 2009. The number of years can be any number from 1 to 4, and the QB rating is made into a value based on the chart below.

QB Rating: Rating Value
100-140: 1
140-160: 2
160+: 3

So if a team loses a QB who started for 2 years and had a QB Rating of 130 (1), then 2+1=3. The QB Value is 3.

Just like the number of starters lost, the QB Value is added to the Final Value.
Once again, any team NOT losing their starting QB will have a QB Value of ZERO (0).

4. Fourth, I calculated a value to represent other losses on offense. To calculate a rushing value, I started by looking at every rushing yard and touchdown lost by each team. This includes all rushing yards and touchdowns from 2009 gained by ANY player, whether it's the running back, fullback, receiver, QB or other. I calculated the percentage of rushing yards lost, and the percentage of rushing touchdowns lost. Then, I created a formula to determine a Rushing Value, in which rushing yards are worth 75%, and rushing TDs are worth 25%. I did the same thing with receiving yards and touchdowns. The Rushing Value and Receiving Value are then added to the Final Value.

5. I created a Defense Value, based on three criteria: percentage of defensive tackles lost, percentage of interceptions lost, and percentage of sacks lost. Since tackles are the most important and basic part of defensive stats, they are worth 70% of the Defensive Value, while sacks and interceptions are each 15%. The total Defensive Value is then added to the Final Value.

6. With all values added, you have the Final Value, and teams are ranked by the lowest Final Value. For example:
-Texas finished #(2) in the AP Poll in 2009.
-They lose a total of (10) starters from that 2009 squad on offense, defense and special teams.
-They lose QB Colt McCoy, who started for (3) years with a QB Rating in 2009 of 147.41 (2).
-They lose 16.8% of Rush Yards and 10.7% of Rush TDs for a Rushing Value of (1.53).
-They lose 38.7% of Receiving Yards and 44.8% of Receiving TDs for a Receiving Value of (4.02). -They lose 36.7% of tackles, 33.3% of sacks, and 32% of interceptions, for a Defensive Value of (3.548).
-To get to the Final Value, add the (n) values from above. (2)+(10)+(3+2)+(1.53)+(4.02)+(3.548)=26.098

With a Final Value of 26.098, Texas ranks at #7.

The Rankings
1. Boise State
2. TCU
3. Ohio state
4. Iowa
5. Alabama
6. Nebraska
7. Texas
8. Virginia Tech
9. Oregon
10. Wisconsin
11. Georgia Tech
12. Cincinnati
13. Florida
14. Miami
15. Texas Tech
16. Penn State
17. Pittsburgh
18. West Virginia
19. Utah
20. Oklahoma
21. BYU
22. Navy
23. LSU
24. Georgia
25. USC
26. Oregon State
27. Clemson
28. Stanford
29. Rutgers
30. Auburn
31. Arkansas
32. Florida State
33. Mississippi
34. Central Michigan
35. Air Force

(Disclaimer: Before you scoff at some of the rankings, remember that these are based completely on statistics and no personal opinion. For instance, you may find it ridiculous that non-BCS conference teams Boise State and TCU are at the top of the rankings. That's the point of the Unbiased Top 35. Teams are evaluated purely on results from 2009 and statistical losses. This is NOT an attempt to predict the best teams in 2010. It is simply an exercise in viewing where teams should be ranked preseason based on fair analysis rather than hype and opinion.)

Aug 6, 2010

UGA #21 in first USA Today Coaches' Poll

See the poll HERE.

This, in my opinion, is a good spot for the Dawgs. I expected anything between 20-25, and somehow we landed in the higher end of that. For an 8-5 team with a new QB, it seems like a reasonable ranking.

But some of the other choices are a little... questionable.

-Florida at #3? I understand they have been dominant the past two years, but they lost a TON on both sides of the ball.
-Oklahoma at #8? An 8-5 team at #8? I'm not sure if an 8-5 team has ever appeared in the preseason top 10.
-Arkansas at #19: Could they be very good? Yes. Do they deserve it now? No. Why are they getting it? Because the media loves Ryan Mallett.

Otherwise, not a completely terrible poll. I'm going to try to have the 2010 version of the Unbiased Preseason Poll up Monday to compare.

Aug 4, 2010

Bulldog Nation Rap: Oh Boy

This might have already floated around the blawgosphere while I was away, but it's worth posting again.

Go to and you'll hear an interesting tune.

That tune can also be heard in the video below. I'm sensing some more sideline dancing this season.