Wired takes a look at the men behind the computers behind the BCS. It’s not as state-of-the-art as you might think.
… For all the power wielded by BCS computers this time of the year, the machines themselves are hardly extraordinary. In fact, the rankings are processed by individually owned desktop PCs and laptops around the country.
Wes Colley runs his calculations in a database from his home in Alabama. Jeff Sagarin works from his home in southern Indiana, using Fortran, a once popular program used by old-school mathematicians.
Peter Wolfe compiles his rankings baked in C++. Anderson and Hester use a complex spreadsheet and an ordinary HP laptop in Southern California. “When we started, it took Excel half an hour to calculate the rankings,” Anderson says. “Now it takes a fraction of second.”
Of course, these guys think they’re doing the Lord’s work, but Anderson does make a valid point about the new system being somewhat more inclusive to mid-majors than what it replaced.
… Anderson agrees, pointing to the Air Force Academy’s 1971 Sugar Bowl–playing squad, the last team not from a large conference to play in a major bowl before the BCS. “There’s no question in my mind that computer rankings have opened doors for smaller teams,” he says, “Six small-market teams have been invited to BCS bowls in the last six years. It’s only a matter of time until one of these teams wins a championship.”
The weirdest thing in the article is Sagarin’s support for a playoff, not because he thinks it’s a superior way of determining the best team, but because he’s grown jaded.
Sagarin would love to see a playoff, if only for the novelty. “Championship formats are like ice cream,” he says. “I like all ice cream. In that sense, I wouldn’t mind sampling a 16-team playoff, even though I still really like the current flavor.”
It’s as good a reason as some I’ve seen.