RTT Computer Rankings: Why Bad Teams Matter More Than Good Teams

When I have the time in a week, I plan on using the RTT computer numbers as a starting point for a discussion about the performance of the league in football.  (A recap of the methodology may be found here, albeit with week 3's numbers.  Week 4's numbers may be found here.)  Let's start first by a peek at the conferences in general.  If we score the conferences by a straight-up average of the teams within each conference, we get the following chart.  (Note that "1-A IND" includes only Notre Dame, Army, and Navy, and is therefore a fairly useless number.  But there it is.)

Conference_scores_medium

For any weirdness that may result in the scores of individual teams this early in the season, the conference averages make sense to me.  The SEC and Big 12 are the best conferences early on.  The PAC-10 through the ACC are clustered fairly closely together at the moment.  The MWC is still clearly the class of the mid-majors, though noticeably behind the majors so far this year.  The WAC is held above the trash heap almost exclusively by Boise State.  The Sunbelt sets the standard for bad.

SEC

Sec_scores_week_4_medium

In the SEC, Florida and Alabama are so far ahead of everybody else as to make it laughable.  The one thing to keep in mind about the SEC at this point, however, is the bottom end.  Even though Arkansas trails thanks to a lack of anything resembling a defense, they still score better than -60.  Watch the rest of the leagues to see how important not having sucky teams is to having a good conference.

Big_12_scores_week_4_medium

This is very similar to the SEC, except there is only one clear elite in the Big 12 at the moment - Texas.  The difference between one and two elites is literally the only thing breaking the tie between to two best conferences in football.  (Note: Colorado's number is still shaky due to having played only three games.  They play West Virginia next.)

PAC-10

Pac-10_scores_week_4_medium

Again with the one anchor.  Other than Wazzou, the PAC-10 has been balanced enough to be respectable across the board.  But you'll notice that there is a tendency for the bottom end of a conference to fall off a steep cliff.  Let's now fast-forward to the ACC, which you may think ought to be higher, given the starts of teams like Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and UNC.

ACC

Acc_scores_week_4_medium

Ah.  Two anchors in Virginia and Maryland, both of whom are nearing Wazzou levels of futility.  Even though the top end of the ACC is actually looking better to the computers than the bottom end, it's the bottom that is making the big difference.  This is true for all conferences except two:  the MAC and the WAC.

MAC

Mac_scores_week_4_medium

Ball State may be an anchor, but Central Michigan is providing more lift.

WAC

Wac_scores_week_4_medium

And in the WAC, Boise State unsurprisingly rides above the rest.  By the way, note the scale on the y-axis: Boise is going to get drilled on its SOS later on in the season.  Even undefeated may not be enough for them.

But surely the Sun Belt won't be affected by an anchor, right?  I mean, they're already universally bad:  how low can low possibly get?

Sun Belt

Sun_belt_scores_week_4_medium

Oh.  Umm...yeah.  Is it cold in here, or what?

So the point is this:  there's a lot more room for teams to be bad than elite.  A lot more room.  When evaluating conferences, we like to look at the best 2 or 3 teams and go from there, but a true conference measure has to include everybody.  And if 1 bad team in a conference may be ignored an outlier (i.e. Arkansas), it's much harder to justify when you see two or more teams of ill repute (i.e. Virginia and Maryland).

So the next time somebody gets into a conference argument, try this tactic.  Rather than argue about matching best-on-best and so on, simply place the names of the conference teams into hats and randomly draw matchups.  Then discuss the perceived winners and losers.  Odds are it'll be pretty clear that the SEC and PAC-10 are head and shoulders above the rest right now.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Rocky Top Talk

You must be a member of Rocky Top Talk to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Rocky Top Talk. You should read them.

Join Rocky Top Talk

You must be a member of Rocky Top Talk to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Rocky Top Talk. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker