Advice to BCS: Make some decisions without Sagarin

October 17, 2001 2:30 AM
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The managers of the Bowl Championship Series were scheduled to unveil their first rankings of the season last week, but postponed it because of an insufficient number of games played.

Insufficient, indeed. One of the computer systems the BCS uses is that of Jeff Sagarin, whose ratings appear weekly in USA Today. Had the BCS started last week and included Sagarin’s ratings in its final figures, the results would have been both astounding and hilarious.

According to Sagarin, there were 24 teams better than Miami (Fla.), Harvard would beat Penn State and Rhode Island is superior to, among others, Arkansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma State and a whole bunch of teams from the Big 12, Big 10, Southeastern Conference and Pac-10 Conference.

Computer rankings are the mindless result of whatever data anyone can throw into the mix. In the final analysis, it’s human judgment that is paramount. The BCS should do away with its computers and, instead, rely on the best judgment of those who know college football. In that way it will avoid the embarrassment of last season when the BCS computers selected Florida State over Miami for its championship game, even though Miami had beaten FSU during the regular season.

As for Sagarin in USA Today>, that publication could use the space more advantageously than printing such claptrap.

You can look for the ranks of the unbeaten teams to be thinned down considerably in the coming weeks. Conference schedules alone will see to that. Miami and Virginia Tech have to play each other in the Big East. UCLA, Oregon and Washington State all have to play each other in the Pac-10. Oklahoma and Nebraska must square off in the Big 12.

Few will be left standing at the end of the regular season. We’re sticking with our preseason prediction that Miami will beat all and win the national championship.

College football’s most unpopular coach, Steve (Close the Gates of Mercy) Spurrier got his comeuppance last Saturday night when his Florida Gators were ambushed by Auburn. This, by the way, is the same Auburn team that was flogged by Syracuse, 31-14. This was a reminder to the good ol’ boys of the SEC that they also play football in the Big East.

In another upset, Wisconsin burned 63-32 by Indiana the previous week (Indiana’s only win) came back from a 17-0 deficit at Ohio State to topple the Buckeyes, 20-17. Picking college football winners is never easy, but here are a couple that look good this week.

Saturday, Oct. 20

FSU at Virginia: We did not include Florida State in our preseason Top Ten and, in fact, wrote that the Seminoles would lose three game this year. They’ve already dropped two, but this will not be the third. The Cavaliers are struggling as new coach Al Groh attempts to build his program. After losing to Miami last week, Bobby Bowden will have FSU sharp and ready to resume its customary dominance of ACC rivals. Look for the Seminoles to roll here. Florida State (—11½) is a very solid play.

USC at Notre Dame: Even though both teams have lost luster in recent seasons, this remains the most storied rivalry in all of college football. The two schools have produced more national champions, Heisman Trophy winners and All-Americans than any other program. This is the oldest intersectional series involving a West Coast team. It’s a huge game for new USC coach Pete Carroll, who needs to develop a winning attitude in a series that cost more than one coach is job with the Trojans for failing to beat the Irish. The Trojans, triggered by QB Carson Palmer, have a good passing attack. The Irish have no passing game. The early line called this one a pick’em. Go with USC no matter what the price.

Baseball Bits

The Atlanta Braves will defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks for the NL pennant because of superior pitching depth. The Diamondbacks do not have a bullpen to match the Braves.

My best guess on the Barry Bonds situation is that he and the Giants will get together and end his career in San Francisco.

One player certain to be moving is disgruntled Boston outfielder Carl Everett. The club wants to get rid of him, and a Red Sox official told GamingToday that four teams have already made contact about working a deal.