Those problematic computers strike again.
Actually, the standings aren't all that problematic, but... USC's No. 2 and that's just not cool.
I'll release my rankings later today, but it will be difficult, to put it mildly, to put USC at that No. 2 spot. USC's the biggest name of the undefeateds, has played the most difficult schedule and has shown over the last few years to be an incredibly successful football program.
And yet, that's not really what should be considered when humans (through the AP, Harris and Coaches polls) rank a team.
Who is best? Put them No. 1. Who is next best? Put them No. 2. Continue until you're at No. 25. Repeat the next week.
The computers have USC No. 1, and may disrupt a favorable championship game if this holds.
Luckily for upset Michigan, West Virginia, Florida, Louisville, Auburn, Texas and other fans, the season's not over. I do not anticipate USC staying at that No. 2 spot. They finish their season with Oregon, California, Notre Dame and UCLA. With the way they're playing that's a murderous stretch that the Trojans simply won't survive.
The best thing going for the BCS right now is that the season has several more weeks to play itself out. LOTS will happen between now and that fateful Sunday when the final BCS rankings are released.
What's interesting is this plays into my arguments about not ranking teams strictly by wins and losses. A good case can be made for Michigan or West Virginia or Auburn or Florida (and perhaps Louisville, Texas, California, Tennessee) being better teams than USC. For way too long we've been burdened by this notion that teams must be "deserving" of a certain spot, which is code for "hasn't lost X amount of games and hasn't embarrassed itself any worse than the competition". All that should ever matter is "how good is this team?"
Such an evaluation obviously makes many people uncomfortable, because there is no perfect way to determine this. It is left up to each of us, each of the pollsters, to use our experience, our intelligence, our biases and observation skills, to develop rankings that are as accurate and fair as possible.
It's an imperfect system, but so are the computers. What makes many of us comfortable with the computers is that they are unwavering and do not break from their internal logic. There is a logic to how they arrive at their rankings, but it will continue to provide unreliable results when the inputs are all taken from an imperfect regular season of play. Teams do not all play the same schedules. Teams do not all play the same number of home and road games. Conferences are not equal year to year. All of this takes the computers further away from accuracy, but it's something PEOPLE have the power to compensate for and recognize.
To date we've done just a so-so job of factoring in for these things, but we can always do better. That's the challenge. I've advocated poll reform before and I continue to be an advocate. Choose better and more informed voters, give them the tools and time necessary to make informed votes. Things can be better than they are now.
That and get rid of the coaches polls and computers, outright.
From the CFR Forums: Anger at the BCS
MGoBlog gives a plug and also has a link to this: Las Vegas Sports Consultants Top 25 via the D.C. Sports Bog. Those guys know what they're doing... but their top 25 from last week was a bit funky for my taste. At least they had Georgia outside of the top 25, I can respect that.