Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Linkasaurus

Pat Forde points out yet another massive flaw in the BCS, although he isn't as harsh about it as I would be: coaches don't even fill out their own ballots. Of course this shouldn't be a surprise, and really wouldn't matter anyway – coaches have no way of accurately estimating the change in relative strength of 20+ teams they couldn't watch on Saturday because they were, you know, coaching (remember you don't have all week to fill out your ballot) – but it's still an indication of how deluded BCS backers are. And remember that this is the part of the formula that gains more weight when the "title" game isn't fought down to the wire, because of course it's the computers that are wrong.

Jim Delany doesn't think the Big Ten has to worry about recent, um, lack of performance. In the original article on AnnArbor.com, Delany also points out (quite accurately) that many of these bowls are, for all practical purposes, road games for the Big Ten, and in that context, sure, struggling a little bit is to be expected. Then again, if this came from someone other than a man who may be singlehandedly preventing a I-A playoff system, you could put something more into it. After all, wouldn't it be easier for the Big Ten to regain national stature if Penn State beat, say, Alabama, Florida, and USC to win a real national title?

Way back when I had time on my hands (before the innernets), I wrote a little baseball sim for Full Impact, an old, old spreadsheet for the Mac. It generated line scores, estimating runs per inning, hits, and errors based on frequencies I gathered from a season's worth of box scores from the Sporting News. Years later, someone took the same concept and ran with it, creating an actual model to predict the chances of scoring X runs in an inning given Y runs scored per game. Very cool, and most likely you all have just fallen sound asleep.

Apparently owners are spending too much money on players. Not in baseball (this time), but rather in soccer. UEFA, Europe's governing body for soccer, is concerned that more teams will seek to emulate Manchester City and Real Madrid, spending as much as they can to sign as many top players as they think they can get without worrying about the future. I suppose their concerns are warranted: too much debt can force a club to list its valuable players to pay off the debt, and in some cases it can even cost the club points in the standings. See, for example, last year's League Two standings, where four clubs, including the two relegated clubs, were penalized for being in various stages of insolvency. (Consider that the club earning the stiffest penalty, Luton Town, played in the Championship in 05-06 and has since been relegated three times, now playing in Conference National.) So clubs are made to force consequences for terrible management, unlike here, where they simply go into bankruptcy or get pity money from the league or sometimes even give their players apologies instead of paychecks.

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