Ed Gunther is my hero. Fresh off of counting all of the first place ballots cast in the AP and Coaches Poll during the BCS era, he’s now turned his attention to a huge issue and turned in a monster of a report.
Here’s what he’s chosen to dig his teeth into.
We’re going to be asking (and answering) two main questions here: first,
are there any constants in how far teams drop in the polls after a loss?
have the polls shown any biases for or against teams or conferences?
Like I said, that’s quite the task. And he does a great job with it. Take some time to read through it (and it will take some time, that’s for sure). I just want to note this conclusion he reaches:
… Sure, most non-BCS teams have a legitimate complaint that the polls never give them enough respect in the preseason rankings. But does that bias carry over once teams start losing? In the AP, that’s a resounding no – 11 of the 19 non-BCS teams actually have a zero or positive average in the AP (meaning they dropped less spots than the average). That’s a much better percentage of teams than the BCS conferences where only 29 of 63 teams have a positive average. Air Force and Colorado State are in the Top 5 of teams who get a break, dropping over 2 spots less than the average for comparable teams when they lose. So if anything, the AP voters make up for their preseaon (sic) apprehension of non-BCS teams by dropping them less than BCS teams when they inevitably lose.
But the Coaches poll is a different story. Only 5 of the 18 non-BCS teams have a positive average, meaning that the overwhelming majority of non-BCS teams drop further in the Coaches poll after a loss than the average team does. (It’s true that in general, the Coaches drop teams further for a loss than the AP, but not by that much – it’s a difference of 0.2 spots.) In fact, the Coaches dropped non-BCS teams more than the average in nearly 2/3′s of their losses. Looking at it one final way, all of the BCS teams combine for the average 0.0 in the Coaches poll – non-BCS teams combine for a -1.6 average, losing a spot and a half more per game than BCS teams. Remind me again why keeping their ballots secret is a good thing?
It seems to me that instead of lobbying Congress and pitching new playoff proposals, the Mountain West and the other non-BCS conferences ought to be raising holy hell about this.