It was revealed this week that the final BCS standings announced on Sunday were not the final BCS standings after all.It seems that the data set from the Appalachian State-Western Illinois playoff game was not added to one of the computer rankings used to compile the BCS numbers.
Once that error was corrected, Boise State earned enough points jump over LSU and move from 11th to 10th in the final standings.
So one game between two teams that aren’t even in the the FBS can affect one computer ranking (out of six) enough to alter the ranking of two teams in the Top 10 of college football?
What if Boise State had not lost to Nevada, and was instead battling TCU and Stanford for automatic bids? Such an error could have cost a school, its conference, and its members millions of dollars, not to mention the “honour” of playing in a BCS game. That such a minor error can have such wide-ranging effects obliterates the credibility of the entire system. (If it even has any left.)
It’s a stark reminder that computers can’t solve for human error, because computers are controlled by humans. Formulas can be tweaked, removed, cut, or as is the case here, simply ignored. How many more omissions or errors of data entry have happened in the last 10 years that were never caught? Maybe one our “national champions” wasn’t really a national champion?
The rankings are constantly manipulated to suit the needs of the BCS, the fans, or whatever the prevailing winds say about what’s important to college football. For example, they aren’t even allowed to consider margin of victory — as if that gave you no indication of the difference between two teams. Other mathematicians have boycotted.
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