Monday, December 01, 2008


So the BCS standings have come out, and there is much yelling and hollering over the fact that Oklahoma has passed Texas in the computer rankings, thus earning the right to massacre Missouri in the Big 12 title game en route to the BCS championship hoedown. This switch is due largely to the fact that Oklahoma dismantled a top-tier team in Oklahoma State this weekend, while Texas destroyed a substandard Texas A&M squad, jiggering the strength of schedule numbers enough that the Sooners snuck past. Of course, numerous voters in the human polls were aware of this possibility and rigged their ballots to try to keep Texas afloat, leading to a hue and cry about the fact that the BCS voting system can be rigged.

In a word, duh.

It's a system that's fairly easy to do a crude reverse engineering job on, and such is susceptible to being gamed. Of course coaches are going to vote certain teams higher or lower than where they think they actually belong, based on how that's going to counterweight other coaches' votes. The only surprise is that it took so long for the media to notice this sort of thing was going on; after all, it's the same sort of cheesing the system that 12 year olds on XBox Live! master instantly. The only solution is to make all the ballots public, instead of the just the last one, and thus demand at least some accountability from the coaches.

But in the meanwhile, the shout goes up that, horror of horrors, the system can be gamed because Oklahoma jumped Texas, and Texas beat Oklahoma. Of course, if Texas had stayed ahead, then the Oklahoma supporters would be pointing out that OU beat Texas Tech, who beat Texas, and we'd have exactly the same debate, except in strawberry instead of chocolate. And Utah and Penn State, who both beat Oregon State, are both behind USC despite USC having lost to Oregon State, and...

...and in the end, it doesn't much matter. It's a broken system, easily gamed, and designed to provoke the arguments that keep college football on everyone's radar twelve months a year. To express surprise now that the system can by gamed is simply to admit that one has not been paying attention.
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