Part 4 in the rankings tutorial: The SOS factor
I just visited Ben, a former homeschool player who was so excited to see his former team's ranking in the new rankings, but his giddiness turned to a mixture of bewilderment and being personally violated. We reviewed some additional factors and resolved his confusion, but his disappointment will take a bit more time.
If you dig into the internals of your ranking, you'll see 2 major sections; "Power Rating" and "Strength Of Schedule" (SOS). That second listing is what we'll focus on in this post.
"How did each former opponent do this past weekend?".
We got our answer when we discovered that 5 of the 8 teams lost this weekend. A hit like that can wipe out any ratings gains from a 40 point win against a weak team, this weekend.
The college football BCS uses some of the same dynamics we see in the Freeman Scoring at Maxpreps. I once visited with the Oklahoma State University QB and asked him about the fierce bedlam rivalry they have with the University of Oklahoma.
"We like OU", he said. "We hope they win every game next season, except one".
That response may seem more like diplomacy than strategy, but it is, in fact, brilliant math. If every team you play wins every other game in their regular season, you will have the greatest SOS in the nation! Your ranking will go 'through the roof'!
In the world of computer rankings, pronouncing jealous curses upon your former opponents is a stupid way to seal your own team's demise. It's first of all spiritually bankrupt, and it defies the basic rules of mathematics. Even when your team's season comes to an abrupt end in a postseason playoff defeat, it's in your best interest to cheer on the victors. Because if you're going to lose, it would speak better for your team if you lost to the champions than if you lost to a 'flash in the pan' who fizzled out in the next round.