The College Football Champion Index™ is brought to you exclusively from Hog Database™.
At the urging of friends, fans and interested readers, posts which study the performance standards of BCS Champions are now the bases for a manageable, weekly NCAA Division I-A “College Football Champion Index” focused solely on a team’s cumulative performances compared to the standards of a composite BCS Champion. Study tells us that teams which seem to have outrageous numbers and even a decent won-loss records will have critical deficits which expose them to a loss (or losses) as a season progresses whether the opponent is formidable or an also-ran conference rival. While it might be said that in the real world both the cream and the scum rise to the top, the composite BCS Champion serves as a clear, unbiased means of separating those worthy to compete for the BCS Championship from those who are pretenders. In the end, performance and wins are the only things that matter for the College Football Champion.
The impetus to create the College Football Champion Index is a culmination of many different interests. Whether actually published or not, Hog Database’s statistical charts encompass more than 125 data sets detailing many aspects of college football, the Arkansas Razorbacks or the Southeast Conference. Double that number for those which are in our possession but not on the Hog Database server. Sitting as a bunch of electronic 1s and 0s on a computer, the information is of little consequence to anyone and certainly doesn’t make college football fans more knowledgeable which is our ultimate goal. With the College Football Champion Index we bring fans a real comparison of their teams as against those BCS Champions which performed without excuses. That progress needs to be reflected in an unbiased manner somewhere. It is time to make this information functional.
How the Index is Created
Performance Standards of BCS Champions and Evaluating the Hogs’ Chances for a BCS Championship study characteristics of BCS Champions, and their end analyses found that BCS Champions are very closely similar in certain respects while in other aspects they vary greatly. The numbers tell us that of all statistical categories, BCS Champions are consistently best at Total First Downs per Season not only in terms of their average performance as a group but also in closeness of the performance ranges from best to worst. Just about any D-I football team would be delighted to have the worst performance in the set of BCS Champions’ Total First Downs by Season. As we examine various categories, ten which most exemplify the characteristics of BCS Champions create a “composite BCS Champion.” The statistical categories are arranged in order from the most consistent to the merely consistent:
1. Total First Downs by Season
2. Scoring Defense
3. Total Defense
4. Pass Efficiency Defense
5. Scoring Offense
6. Passing Efficiency
7. Turnover Margin
8. Sacks by Season
9. 3rd Down Percentage Offense
10. Total Offense
Each of the categories are weighted according to the average overall composite rankings of BCS Champions for each category with due consideration for the breadth of the range of those rankings. Total First Downs by Season has not only the highest average ranking for BCS Champions, it also has the narrowest range of all season rankings for any category which describes BCS Champions. The exact method of weighing the BCS categories will not be revealed. In order to head off any allegations of bias toward the University of Arkansas’ style of play or against any other team’s style of play, a very limited disclosure of the significance of two categories is revealed further in this post. The actual on-the-field values of the composite champion and each individual school for that category are compared and then weighted. If a team meets or exceeds all of criteria of the composite BCS Champion, the sum total of all individual categories would add to an ideal 1 point. Similar to batting averages in baseball, each team’s performance score is expressed as a three-digit decimal number.
However, the ability of a team to be the BCS Champion depends equally on wins and losses, actually losses to be more precise. Over the last 11 years, only LSU became an improbable BCS Champion with 2 losses. In addition to the Performance Index comes the Elimination Index. Upon a team’s 3rd loss the Performance Index will continue to be calculated; however, the Elimination Index will discount the Performance Index for the first two losses and then read ELIMINATED upon the third loss. As a measure of surprise, some teams’ performances despite their won-loss records may mathematically eliminate them at some point in the season from any reasonable consideration for the BCS Championship.
If you study the posts above, you will find “total” categories as well as the rush and pass subcategories ranked in the same compilation. The “total” categories are Total First Downs by Season, Total Defense, and Total Offense. For the purposes of College Football Champion Index only the “total” categories are indentified in the weekly evaluation. However, after the category was assigned a weight as a whole, that value was then further divided in terms of the relative importance of rush and pass to the category. Ultimately the subcategories combine together to make the “total” category. Said another way, the “total categories” are not directly used; the subcategories are. “Total First Downs by Season” is comprised of “Total First Downs by Rushing” and “Total First Downs By Passing” with each being weighted to produce the “Total First Downs by Season.”
With regard to “Totals by Season” categories, they are compared on a straight-line 14-game season for the BCS Champion although not all conferences have had a Championship Game over the last 11 years.
For this Index, Third Down Percentage Defense makes no distinction in how a 1st Down is accomplished, whether by rush or pass.
Anticipating a few different questions, they will attempt to be addressed here. The College Football Champion Index does not encompass a strength of schedule rating which is admittedly important. However, the BCS Champions over the last 11 years have come from the SEC, Big 12, PAC10, and Big East with most of those schedules coming from the SEC. In order to reach the BCS Championship Game, each team played a BCS Conference Schedule, frequently played a Conference Championship Game, and won BCS National Championship Game. The debate could go on about whether any team scheduled three or four games per year with the Sisters of the Poor, but the only added benefit that any BCS Champion may have received is the incremental increase in stats for three or four games per year. Regardless of any particular strength of schedule, the College Football Champion Performance Index objectively assesses on-the-field performance and will save significant time for anyone interested in evaluating how good a teams numbers are against an objective standard. Combined with your own assessment of strength of schedule the College Football Champion Performance Index serves as a handy starting point by aggregating a tremendous amount of information. As the season progresses into the later weeks, nagging problems with teams will manifest themselves in the College Football Champion Performance Index, so use caution if you decide to discount them heavily based upon strength of schedule in the second half of the season. With all of that said, a strength of schedule rating is strongly urged by some whose opinions I respect. IF one is employed at all, it will not be added until the last 3-4 games of the season when relative team strengths are better assessed.
It is important to note that gaudy stats do not produce any more than a set level of points. Those extreme areas of performance in any game may influence other areas, such as 10 sacks having an impact on Scoring Defense or Total Defense, but the “spill over” effect must manifest itself in those particular categories. 10 sacks just short of line of scrimmage would not greatly influence anything other than sacks. On the other hand, because the College Football Champion Performance Index considers the body of work for BCS Champions over an entire year, teams in the College Football Champion Index do receive the benefit of numbers from one week to potentially shore up numbers for the next week. Some will consider that the carry forward of stats masks weakness of the following week which leads back to strength of schedule. It is a completely understandable argument, but BCS Champions will have had similar variations in each of their schedules. It is anticipated that over the course of the year, the wheat will be separated from the chaff.
Some will ask about margin of victory. Being an aficionado of Jeff Sagarin’s Predictor Ratings which consider margin of victory as opposed to Sagarin’s politically correct ELO_CHESS ratings, which are used for the BCS Poll and artificially remove margin of victory, not having a specific margin of victory seems like an omission. Although margin of victory is not explicitly included, depending upon your point of view, it’s not included at all or at the other extreme, it’s absolutely required. Scoring Defense and Scoring Offense were weighted on each’s individual place in the grand scheme and necessarily imply that any team’s defense should allow only so many points while the offense produces so many points. A margin is required, but the margin required has a defined range. A team which wins 45-35 will almost completely fail the Scoring Defense standard.
For the sake of disclosure as noted above, passing subcategories for Total First Downs and for Total Offense provide any team no more than .068 points out of a theoretical 1.000 point, or no more than 6.8% of the total. Passing Efficiency is its own separate category which applies to every team regardless of their offensive strategy.
One final matter before the Index is revealed. The Index will use Official NCAA Statistics as they are published online. Team schedules may create anomalies from week to week which will be corrected through the next week’s Index. Although the rest of the college football world ended Week 1 of 2011 at the end of the day on Monday, September 5, 2011, the NCAA statistics are only used through September 3, 2011. Teams such as Texas A&M and SMU will be listed for Week 2 utilizing two games, assuming that neither has another game scheduled for Sunday or Monday of next week. Keep in mind that the Index is cumulative each week so the fact that a performance number remains the same from week to week. When that happens a team may slip in the College Football Champion Index during a bye week based on the calculation’s expectation of new numbers for yearly stats. The harsh reality is that teams improve performance on the field, not on the sidelines. (If the lettering is small for you, you may be able to hold down the Ctrl button and press the + on your number pad to increase the size. Many browsers also have zoom settings which will magnify the lettering. )
How CFCI Compares to Previous Years’ Final Standings
2010 CFCI vs. BCS Final vs. AP Top 25 Final vs. USA Today Final
|Performance Rank||CFCI||Performance||Elimination||Elimination Rank||BCS RK||BCS Final||AP RK||AP Top25 Final||USA RK||USA Today|
|6||Oregon||0.883||0.768||5||5||Wisconsin||5||Ohio State||5||Ohio State|
|12||Oklahoma St.||0.828||0.626||9||9||Michigan State||9||Boise State||8||Wisconsin|
|3||Alabama||0.933||0.614||10||10||Boise State||10||Alabama||10||Oklahoma State|
|30||Michigan St.||0.783||0.592||13||13||Virginia Tech||13||Oklahoma State||13||Nevada|
|9||Northern Ill.||0.845||0.556||14||14||Oklahoma State||14||Michigan State||14||Michigan State|
|10||Arkansas||0.843||0.554||15||15||Nevada||15||Mississippi State||15||Virginia Tech|
|14||UCF||0.821||0.540||16||16||Alabama||16||Virginia Tech||16||Florida State|
|19||Missouri||0.805||0.529||17||17||Texas A&M||17||Florida State||17||Mississippi State|
|66||Utah||0.726||0.478||21||21||Mississippi State||21||UCF||21||Texas A&M|
|13||Air Force||0.824||0.471||22||22||West Virginia||22||South Carolina||22||South Carolina|
|15||Mississippi St.||0.820||0.469||23||23||Florida State||23||Maryland||23||Utah|
|31||Hawaii||0.781||0.446||25||25||UCF||25||North Carolina State||25||North Carolina State|