Popularity And Reputation DO Give Teams A Leg Up In The BCS Rankings, Study Finds

Penn State

Over the New York Times, the popular statistician Nate Silver crunched some numbers on the BCS and preseason/postseason rankings. Not surprisingly, Silver found:

A team’s preseason ranking has a modest but statistically significant effect on its B.C.S. ranking at the end of the season, even after controlling for its quality of play as determined by computer systems.

There is also evidence that teams with wider fan bases are more likely to be treated favourably by B.C.S. voters — meaning that the surveys are a popularity contest, at least in part. A marquee name like Notre Dame is likely to finish a couple of ranks higher than, for instance, Mississippi State or Northwestern given equivalent performance on the field.

Of course, Silver’s findings won’t shock fans of college football, but the more actual evidence of the BCS system’s inequity, the better.

Read Silver’s article here.

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