Friday, April 23, 2010

Official BCS Conference Standings... Finally!

Something isn’t right. The BCS actually released the official calculation criteria for a conference to gain automatic qualification (Official BCS Qualification Criteria). My first reaction was that they cooked the books—waited to see how the conference rankings stacked up at the midway point and then offered up a target that would be out of reach for the MWC. However, Bill Hancock and company, maintain that these criteria have been clearly written for several years, but that only now they are releasing them publicly. I was skeptical. Then I ran the numbers. The MWC is clearly on track to gain AQ status. You read that right. If things continue on the field as they have for the last two years, the MWC should qualify for AQ status, even without Boise State.

Here is the long awaited, never expected, official criteria (all calculations will be based on membership at the end of the 2011 regular season):

Per the official press release, the evaluation includes the following for each conference:

(1) the ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS Standings each year (if a conference does not place a team in the final BCS Standings, then its highest-ranked team is determined by the conference member that has the highest average ranking in the computer rankings used in the BCS Standings),

(2) the final regular-season rankings of all conference teams in the computer rankings used by the BCS each year, and

(3) the number of teams in the top 25 of the final BCS Standings each year, with adjustments to account for differences in the number of members of each conference.

A conference will become the seventh automatic qualifier if it finishes among the top six conferences in both No. 1 and No. 2 and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 50 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3.

[Further, a conference will be eligible to apply to the Presidential Oversight Committee for an exemption if it finishes among the top six in both No. 1 and No. 2 and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 33.3 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3,
If it finishes among the top seven in either No. 1 or No. 2 and among the top five in the other and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 33.3 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3.]

No. 3 above, the "Top 25 Performance Rating," will be calculated as follows: Points will be awarded to the conferences based on their teams' finishes in the top 25 of the final BCS Standings each year. Points will be awarded as follows:

Teams finishing 1-6: 4 points for each team
Teams finishing 7-12: 3 points for each team
Teams finishing 13-18: 2 points for each team
Teams finishing 19-25: 1 point for each team

The point totals will be adjusted to account for the size of the conference, as follows:
Conference membership      Adjustment
12 or more members          no adjustment
10 or 11 members              points increased by 12.5 percent
9 or fewer members           points increased by 25 percent

In summary, a conference has to be ranked in the top six in Criteria 1 and Criteria 2, and be at least 50% of the top ranked team in Criteria 3. If it doesn’t quite meet these criteria, it can apply for an exemption as long as:
A) it finishes in the top six in Criteria 1 and 2, and at least 33.3% of the top team in Criteria 3, or
B) it finishes in the top seven in either Criteria 1 or Criteria 2 and in the top five the other and at least 33.3% of the top team in Criteria 3.

So, although my first assessment is only a few days old, it is already time to re-crunch the numbers without any of the ambiguity or assumptions required in the previous version. What follows are the two year averages. Hold on to your seats…

Criteria 1—Highest Ranked Team in the Conference
Rk Conf     Ave
1   SEC       1.5
1   B12       1.5
3   MWC     5.0
4   P10       6.0
5   BE         7.5
5   WAC      7.5
7   B10        8.0
8   ACC      11.5
9   MAC     26.3
10  CUSA   39.7
11  SB        55.3
      ND       57.5

Criteria 2—Average Final Regular Season Ranking for All Teams
Rk Conf       Ave
1   SEC       38.7
2   ACC      40.6
3   BE         43.1
4   B12       46.6
5   P10       48.7
6   B10       50.7
     ND        57.5
7   MWC    59.2
8   WAC     72.8
9   CUSA    81.1
10  MAC    86.6
11  SB        96.0

Criteria 3—Points for Teams Finishing in the BCS Top 25
Rk Conf      Pts     Adj     Total
1   SEC       22      0.0%    22.0
2   B10        18    12.5%    20.3
3   B12        20     0.0%     20.0
3   MWC     16    25.0%     20.0
5   P10        14    12.5%    15.8
6   BE          12   25.0%     15.0
7   ACC       12    0.0%      12.0
8   WAC        7   25.0%      8.8
9   MAC        1    0.0%       1.0
10t CUSA      0    0.0%       0.0
10t SB           0    25.0%     0.0
      ND          0    0.0%       0.0

To be clear, these criteria do not apply to the current AQ conferences. They are already guaranteed an AQ berth through 2013 by virtue of the 2004-2007 evaluation period (yes, that is six years of AQ for a four year evaluation period). So, all of this is only interesting to the MWC, WAC, MAC, CUSA and the Sun Belt. However, in reality, only the MWC and WAC could realistically still qualify, and the WAC would have to surpass the MWC in Criteria 2 to achieve at least a seven, while at the same time maintaining its ranking as fifth in Criteria 1, and then apply for an exemption—very unlikely, but technically possible.

The MWC on the other hand, needs to surpass at least one conference in Criteria 2, while maintaining position in the others in order to achieve guaranteed AQ status. Should it remain in seventh in Criteria 2, which is likely, it will need to remain at fifth or better in Criteria 1, while it is already essentially assured a sufficient rank in Criteria 3.

It will be very difficult for the MWC to achieve a rank of six or better in Criteria 2. In order to bump up the average by the requisite 8.5 to pass the sixth rated conference—the Big Ten, each team in the MWC would have to improve their average ranking by double that (17) since we are already halfway into the cycle. TCU, BYU, and Utah, cannot improve by that much (in fact, some slip can be expected), meaning that the other six schools would have to improve by an additional 8.5 each, or 25.5 total average improvement for the bottom six. This would be technically possible, but rather unlikely.

MWC Average Final Computer Rank and Future Requirement
Team    Actual   Req
TCU      7.8
Utah     14.3
BYU      16.8
AF        49.3     23.8
UNLV    80.3     54.8
Wyo     80.3     54.8
CSU      81.6     56.1
UNM    100.2    74.7
SDSU   102.7    77.2

So, given the probable seventh place finish in Criteria 2, the MWC will have to apply to the Presidential Oversight Committee for an exemption and make its case. The closer it is to sixth the better. And, if it can maintain its top three status in Criteria 1 and Criteria 3, it will be in good shape.

MWC Expansion Impact
As already covered earlier this week (, Boise State is the only school that could improve the conference’s body of work through expansion. It would bump up Criteria 2 by an average of 5.2 spots and move the conference to number one overall in Criteria 3 (at least at the mid-point).

Criteria 1--with Boise
Remains the same (3rd) since an MWC school finished ranked higher than Boise in both years.

Criteria 2--with Boise
Rk  Conf       Ave
1    SEC       38.7
2    ACC      40.6
3    BE         43.1
4    B12       46.6
5    P10       48.7
6    B10       50.7
7    MWC     54.0
      ND        57.5
8    WAC     81.0
9    CUSA    81.1
10  MAC     86.6
11  SB        96.0

Criteria 3--with Boise
Rk  Conf      Pts  Adj       Total
1    MWC     23    12.5%   25.9
2    SEC       22     0.0%    22.0
3    B10       18    12.5%   20.3
4    B12       20     0.0%    20.0
5    P10       14    12.5%    15.8
6    BE         12    25.0%    15.0
7    ACC       12     0.0%    12.0
8    MAC       1      0.0%     1.0
9t   WAC       0    25.0%     0.0
9t   CUSA      0      0.0%     0.0
9t   SB           0    25.0%     0.0
      ND          0      0.0%     0.0

So, adding Boise, while impactful, still isn’t enough to guarantee an AQ berth, but it does strengthen the case significantly, and makes it somewhat more feasible for the bottom six schools to improve a more modest 11.0 in the average rankings, versus 25.5 without Boise, in order to overtake the next closest conference.

You never know what might happen between now and then (I imagine most of us never thought we’d see the day the criteria would be released), but it looks like the MWC, with its current membership, will almost certainly qualify under the exemption rule (and not automatically) and will need to make its case before the Presidential Oversight Committee, at which point, it still might be anyone’s guess what they would do. However, the strength of the conference’s ranking in 2 out of the 3 criteria, would make it hard to ignore. And, add Boise, and the MWC screams for admission.


  1. You analysis is great but one thing does NOT make sense ...

    The criteria says in overall league strength the aspiring league must have at least 50 percent of the total of the 1st place league ...

    So obviously the ranings need to be inverted ... and assigned a point value with #1 getting 120 points ... and number 120 getting 1 pt. then averaged to where the strongest league is the highest value.

    It is the only way the aspiring league can have a lower value than the strongest league ...

    Without running the numbers ... meaning 38.7 directly correlates to 81.3 and 54.0 means 66.0 .... you run the numbers ...

    If this is correct then after two years ... the MWC is IN ... WITH OR WITHOUT BSU ... and IN WITH BSU in place in Utah ...

  2. ...these calculations are based on which seasons? You mentioned that the MWC had a team ranked higher than BSU both seasons, but we didn't last year did we? BSU beat TCU and finished above us. So wouldn't that change the first criteria?

  3. No, The 50% and 33% things only deal with the Category 3 part. And when it says 50%, that is refering to a portion of the total. So, if the top rated conference in category 3 is...say the SEC with a total score of 22 points, we would only need to score 11 (50% of 22) or greater to qualify

  4. In answer to the above question concerning Boise State, only the final regular season BCS results are used. In 2009, the final BCS results had TCU ranked 4th and Boise 6th. Now after the bowl games, Boise wound up 3rd and TCU 6th but those don't count.

  5. By my calculations, if we lose SDSU and add Boise, our average ranking in Category 2 jumps up to 48.7, tying us with the Pac-10 for 5th place. The Aztecs were talking about dropping football, right?

  6. That would be an incredible help if SDSU dropped football and we added Boise. Automatic is better than exemption. I don't trust the committee.

  7. What would the numbers look like if Houston was added in addition to Boise St? Would their regular season ranking contribute enough to raise the conference's criteria 2 ranking into the top 6? For criteria 3, you would still benefit from a 12.5% adjustment because the conference wouldn't have hit the 12 member threshold yet.

  8. I like all the ideas on here... if this gets left to the committee, how many of those members are from west of the Mississippi?

  9. A big question still would be around how do they average across the years?

    It is clear that for criteria 1 you took 6 (Utah 2008) plus 4 (TCU 2009) and divided by 2 giving BYU 5. Who is to say that they don't rank each years conference place and then average those. For example:

    1-B12 (1)
    2-SEC (2)
    3-P10 (5)
    4-MWC (6)
    5-B10 (8)
    6-WAC (9)
    7-BE (12)
    8-ACC (14)
    9-CUSA (22)

    1-SEC (1)
    2-B12 (2)
    3-BE (3)
    4-MWC (4)
    5-WAC (6)
    6-P10 (7)
    7-B10 (8)
    8-ACC (9)

    2 year average
    1-B12 (1+2/2=1.5)
    1-SEC (2+1/2=1.5)
    3-MWC (4+4/2=4)
    4-BE (6+3/2=4.5)
    5-P10 (3+6/2=4.5)
    6-WAC (6+5/2=5.5)
    7-B10 (5+7/2=6)
    8-ACC (7+8/2=7.5)

    Granted MWC still sits in 3rd place, but if they did the calculation based on this wouldn't it make it easier for other teams to leap us in the next 2 years. A difference of 6 from top to bottom is easier to jump over people vs the way you had it listed with a difference of 11.

    Either way I don't believe the BCS Eval formula is completely clear on how they will calculate those things. And I could almost guarantee that which ever way they chose to calculate it on Dec 4, 2011 it will be to the BCS powers advantage and not the MWC.