RTT preseason BlogPoll drafty draft draft ballot: now with 75% more mess!

Remember, this is ready, fire, aim. Emphasis on the post-fire aim. Especially this very first attempt, which is the sculpting equivalent of throwing a wad of clay on the table and poking it a few times before running off to another appointment. Ridicule if you must, but if you do, try to at least get in a few pokes of your own so the rest of us can return the favor.

So . . . the first stated goal from a few days ago was to finish the computer program that will inform the human opinions. Well, FAIL right out of the gate. I did manage some progress toward the goal before face-divoting, though, and it gives us more than enough to get started. So here it is.

The first step was to determine the factors that matter, and fortunately, SMQ has already done the sweaty work for us, divining the anwer to the question of which stat[s] correlate[] most closely to success, with the term "success" roughly equating to the term "record." The results over the past two seasons:

2006 2007 Average
Rush Defense 4 1 2.5
Pass Eff. Defense 3 2 2.5
3rd Down Offense 1 4 2.5
Total Defense 5 3 4
Pass Eff. Offense 3 6 4.5
Total Offense 2 7 4.5
Turnover Margin 9 5 7
3rd Down Defense 6 8 7
Pass Defense - 9 9
Rush Offense 7 11 9
Time of Possession 12 10 11
Pass Offense 11 12 11.5
Penalty Yards 13 13 13

I also wanted to take a look at what Phil Steele considered to be the most important statistics. Steele isn't nearly as publicly methodical as SMQ, so it's much more difficult to determine what he deems important, but there are certain factors that he repeats more often than others in analyzing teams. From my reading, the stats of which he is most fond appear to be (1) offensive yards per game, (2) offensive points per game, (3) defensive points per game, and (4) returning starters.

In trying to figure out the best way to weave Steele's factors into SMQ's sweatervest, I decided first that offensive yards per game was likely the same thing as total offense and decided that it had already been factored in by SMQ, so I dropped it. Second, because Steele seemed to mention offensive points per game more often than yards per game, I decided to rank its importance higher than SMQ's total offense. How much higher was purely arbitrary. Third, because Steele appeared to mention defensive points per game less often than offensive points per game, I ranked its importance lower, although that would seem to cut against the fact that defensive stats seem to be more important overall. The degree of the drop was purely arbitrary. Fourth, experience seemed to be as important to Steele as offensive points per game, so it's ranked about the same in importance. I actually bumped it one higher just because it seemed to make sense to do so. Finally, to break ties, I favored consistency over wider disparity and then went with the most recent over the . . . um, less recentist. Ish. Okay.

The result:

2006
2007
Average
Importance
Pass efficiency defense
3
2
2.5
1
Rush defense
4
1
2.5
2
3rd down offense
1
4
2.5
3
Total defense
5
3
4
4
Pass efficiency offense
3
6
4.5
5
Experience
6
Offensive points per game
7
Total offense
2
7
4.5
8
3rd down defense
6
8
7
9
Turnover margin
9
5
7
10
Pass defense
9
9
11
Defensive points per game
12
Rush offense
7
11
9
13
Time of possession
12
10
11
14
Pass offense
11
12
11.5
15
Penalty yards
13
13
13
16

The working theory is that as you work your way down that ranking of importance, the correlation of that particular stat to success decreases. At some point, it may even fail to correlate to success at all. Where is that line? I'll tell you where that line is.

I don't know.

Is the theory even correct? I don't know. Yes, perhaps, maybe, no. In case you've forgotten, we're trying to steer a bullet that's already been fired here.

Of course, all of that stuff above is an attempt to determine the ingredients and measurements of actual records, but what about the actual records themselves? I'm inclined to start with the premise that the winner of a head to head match up should always be ranked higher than the loser, provided they have identical records, and the rest of the factors just help flesh things out. There's a strength of schedule aspect of this idea to monitor, though. For instance, suppose that Westerrn Kentucky beats Georgia in the first game of the season and loses the following week to the No. 120 team in the nation as Georgia beats the No. 2 team in the nation. They'll both be 1-1, and WKU will have the head-to-head, but there is an argument to be made that Georgia is the better team despite having lost to WKU two weeks prior and an even better argument as Georgia continues to beat really good teams as WKU keeps pace against worse teams.

Anyway, at this point, I'm going to say that actual wins and losses trump most all stats and should be given the highest importance. So put wins and losses above pass efficiency defense in that table thingy up there.

Weighting. Consider weighting of the factors to be the most "work-in-progress" aspect of the system right now. Here's the starting point:

WL
PED
RD
3DO
TD
PEO
Exp
OPPG
TO
3DD
2
1.8
1.6
1.4
1.2
1
4
0.6
0.1
.1

Note that I only went down to the 9th level of importance. Why? I'll tell you why.

I don't know.

Experience. Look, nobody's played a game yet this season. These are last year's numbers. What do last year's numbers have to do with this year's expectations? Some a little maybe perhaps notsomuch. The only way I can think of to even attempt to translate last year's numbers to this year's teams is to adjust them for experience, meaning returning starters. For this, I turned to Steele's experience ratings (despite the fact they're largely outdated by this time -- just ask Georgia, Florida, and Southern Cal) and, as this is the preseason and that seems to be the key point of differentiation from last year, I doubled the weighting. To my surprise, it really didn't make much difference. Huh.

Well, doing that put Hawaii in the second spot, which really underscored the need for a strength of schedule correction, so I input the data from the final 2007 NCAA strength of schedule standings and then tweaked the weighting until it looked better, meaning until Hawaii fell to a more comfortable No. 18. Apologies to the Warriors, but you know. Doing that resulted in SOS ranges from 1259 to 748, which looks really strange when the other stat categories range from the single digits to the low 200s, but that's where we're at right now. Expect major tweaking here in the future. If you have ideas, by all means, speak.

So the system is extraordinarily messy and surely unreliable behind the curtain right now, but the results actually don't look all the strange for a preseason poll:

Rank Team
WL
SOS
PED
RD
3DO
TD
PEO
EXP
OPPG
TO
3DD
Total
1
LSU
200
1181.818
208.8
171.2
147
139.2
82
111.6
64.8
9.3
9
2324.718
2
Ohio St.
180
1104.478
207
185.6
142.8
141.6
107
118.8
46.8
5.7
10.5
2250.278
3
West Virginia
180
1112.676
163.8
161.6
155.4
134.4
108
120.6
66
10.4
8.3
2221.176
4
Oklahoma
160
1146.497
136.8
163.2
159.6
111.6
118
118.8
68.4
10
10.6
2203.497
5
Virginia Tech
160
1246.575
205.2
182.4
47.6
138
66
102.6
39.6
1.9
11.5
2201.375
6
Georgia
180
1206.107
149.4
164.8
133
126
58
108
51
4.5
9.6
2190.407
7
Missouri
200
1154.93
133.2
150.4
163.8
72
106
127.8
66.6
11.4
3.7
2189.83
8
Kansas
220
984.8485
198
177.6
123.2
128.4
112
127.8
70.2
11.1
11
2164.148
9
Florida
100
1242.857
86.4
174.4
165.2
93.6
117
90
69.6
10.5
4.4
2153.957
10
BYU
180
1022.556
181.8
176
137.2
130.8
91
122.4
43.2
9.4
8.7
2103.056
11
USC
180
972.6027
203.4
184
127.4
140.4
83
117
51
9
11.1
2078.903
12
Boston College
160
1103.448
172.8
187.2
105
120
60
115.2
38.4
8.6
7.2
2077.848
13
Clemson
100
1104.478
190.8
153.6
109.2
132
99
118.8
54
6.7
8.3
2076.878
14
Oregon
100
1183.673
162
129.6
119
70.8
77
126
64.2
10.9
10.7
2053.873
15
South Fla.
100
1194.03
199.8
136
50.4
109.2
51
129.6
58.8
7.6
11.2
2047.63
16
Arizona St.
140
1061.224
187.2
156.8
71.4
106.8
102
124.2
49.2
6.3
10.8
2015.924
17
Penn St.
100
1055.556
140.4
179.2
141.4
129.6
45
126
44.4
6.4
7.9
1975.856
18
Texas
140
1075.862
88.2
180.8
151.2
80.4
89
90
63
10.6
5.6
1974.662
19
Hawaii
220
830.5085
176.4
124.8
152.6
102
116
151.2
70.8
11.6
11.3
1967.208
20
Cincinnati
140
1046.154
153
160
74.2
82.8
111
118.8
61.8
8.9
9.3
1965.954
21
Kentucky
60
1200
144
40
156.8
62.4
100
126
62.4
9.5
1.5
1962.6
22
Michigan
100
1142.857
183.6
97.6
124.6
114
46
102.6
33.6
5.1
8.6
1958.557
23
Illinois
100
1208.955
120.6
132.8
123.2
76.8
39
104.4
36.6
8.5
6.6
1957.455
24
Oregon St.
100
1144.928
147.6
188.8
44.8
133.2
5
138.6
36.6
4.1
11.7
1955.328
25
Auburn
100
1145.038
201.6
144
51.8
135.6
29
109.8
21
2.2
7.8
1947.838
26
Rutgers
60
1053.435
185.4
94.4
134.4
122.4
97
113.4
51.6
10.1
9.4
1931.535
27
Arkansas
60
1096.296
210.6
88
120.4
87.6
78
99
63.6
10.2
10.5
1924.196
28
Tennessee
120
1187.097
95.4
80
88.2
58.8
90
124.2
49.8
6.5
4.7
1904.697
29
Wake Forest
100
985.9155
189
166.4
85.4
110.4
68
122.4
36.6
2.6
8.9
1875.616
30
Wisconsin
100
1059.702
117
123.2
131.6
97.2
79
111.6
42
7.3
6.7
1875.302
31
Boise St.
140
852.7132
171
134.4
162.4
112.8
113
91.8
69
10.7
10.2
1868.013
32
Oklahoma St.
20
1238.806
28.8
100.8
154
21.6
104
124.2
58.2
11.2
4.2
1865.806
33
Texas Tech
100
1000
142.2
59.2
148.4
88.8
114
115.2
67.2
11.7
2.9
1849.6
34
Michigan St.
20
1118.881
100.8
142.4
96.6
104.4
75
115.2
54
7.7
9.8
1844.781
35
Alabama
20
1171.037
145.8
145.6
56
105.6
33
106.2
33
4.4
4.6
1825.237

All right, one more time. This is about as far from a finished product as you can get. It's the equivalent of drunk scratching out an idea on a barroom napkin in the dark with his fingernail . It's not set in stone, m'kay? It's the beginning of . . . something . . . whatever we make of it.

The First Major Problem: Not so happy with the weighting of the Experience component. It's too small and insignificant compared to the overall total number, which is giantenormous primarily due to the tweaking (wrenching!) of the weight of the SOS component. The problem, though, is that when I trumped the Experience up to match the SOS, Hawaii ended up back on top again. So hmm and all that. I don't have an idea for a satisfactory fix at this time. In fact, it looks to me like the thing is in far a complete recalibration. Perhaps instead of using actual numbers (such as the number of yards of total offense, the number of points per game, etc.), we should just rank each team from 1 to 120 for every category and then determine the weighting. Thoughts?

Anyway, even if we were completely satisfied with the weighting and the formulating and the other 'ings, this is the preseason, and it's subject to Total Human Override, so what do you think? What looks fine? What looks wrong?

My thoughts on the vomit: There are some things at the top that look a little weird to me, but nothing really jumps out as being completely wrong until you hit Boston College at No. 12. I'm on record as believing that Georgia is overrated, so seeing them at No. 6 when the coaches and AP polls have them at No. 1 doesn't give me the jitters. Hawaii at No. 19 does give me heartburn, though, which is probably a hangover from the memory of their bowl game last year and the peer pressure at work in not wanting to "fall for that trick again," but when I have to twist the life out of the numbers to make it look right to me, I'm a bit wary of arbitrarily knocking them down much further just because "I've learned my lesson." Things sort of jump the track at that point, anyway.

So, my proposed adjustments:

  • Boston College down to 25, just so I can keep an eye on them. Matt Ryan's gone, and the impact of that departure is largely unknown, but it just about has to be significant.
  • Auburn should be much higher, I think. They're largley favored to win the West. I moved them up a whopping 15 spots. I'm thinking the computer had them so low primarily due to a low wins and losses number. New offense, installed in last year's bowl game. I just think they'll be better.
  • I bumped West Virginia down one, just because.
  • Southern Cal seemed quite low, and I bumped them up five spots.
  • Cincinnati and Kentucky: out. Taking their spots are Texas Tech and Tennessee because I like Ts.

So, here's the drafty draft draft:

Rank Team Delta
1 LSU 25
2 Ohio State 24
3 Oklahoma 23
4 West Virginia 22
5 Virginia Tech 21
6 Georgia 20
7 Southern Cal 19
8 Missouri 18
9 Kansas 17
10 Florida 16
11 Auburn 15
12 Brigham Young 14
13 Clemson 13
14 Oregon 12
15 South Florida 11
16 Arizona State 10
17 Penn State 9
18 Texas 8
19 Texas Tech 7
20 Tennessee 6
21 Hawaii 5
22 Michigan 4
23 Illinois 3
24 Oregon State 2
25 Boston College 1

 

Dropped Out:

This is a community project. If you have thoughts on either the system or this week's ballot, leave them below.

By the way, I said I'd post the formula, so here's the current spreadsheet. Consider yourself warned: it's messy.

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