Football Season is Back and so are our Rankings – Finally!

Happy football season!!

This season we’ve added some high school football to our rankings. My partner at High School Football America, Jeff Fisher (no relation), hosts an internet radio show as well as a show in Los Angeles ( and our SoCal (Southern and Los Angeles Sections) high school football rankings will be featured on his shows.

After some tweaking and adjusting, we believe we’ve improved the early season rankings for both high school and college football. Also, after some back and forth with Jeff, we’ve come to the painfully obvious realization early season football team measures (rankings) may look a lot different than expected when comparing the measures to opinion rankings, which is what polls are, opinions. Let’s illustrate exactly what is meant by this.

Let’s use ten historical college football powers to paint the picture. What we say here is a hypothetical example and in no way is intended to reflect the current season.

Here’s the early season top ten in a traditional poll:

1. The University of Chicago*
2. Alabama
3. Ohio State
4. Florida
5. Michigan
6. Texas
7. Oklahoma
8. Nebraska
9. USC
10. Florida St

Now, based on who these ten teams played and how they performed against them let’s take a look at how their early season measures may have them ranked:

1. The University of Chicago*
2. Florida St
4. Alabama
8. Ohio State
10. Florida
14. Michigan
15. USC
20. Nebraska
29. Oklahoma
63. Texas

What this example shows is that some teams (i.e. Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas) play a weak early season schedule and that while they may be beating their opponents (and some of them they’re beating very badly like, 70-0), those teams are not competitive against powerhouses like those three teams. SportsMeasures’ ability estimates (measures) and rankings are reflective of the actual game results. Take Florida St’s situation in our example: they are ranked #10 in the opinion poll and #2 in our ranking. Clearly, FSU played a highly competitive early season schedule and had success doing so, resulting in a very high ranking.

This example is exactly what is happening in our high school (Southern California and Los Angeles Sections of the California Interscholastic Federation) and college football rankings. There are teams ranked highly that most likely won’t be there in late November and there are teams which are not there currently which most likely will be then. If the opinion polls are indeed correct, SportsMeasures’ rankings will either verify or challenge them as the season progresses.

In three of the past four seasons SportsMeasures’ college football rankings have shown that the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) had the two best teams in the BCS Championship game. Last season our rankings showed that the BCS system is indeed flawed in having Notre Dame in the championship game against Alabama. Oregon rightfully deserved to be playing Alabama for the national title as they finished at #2 in our poll. Alabama beat Notre Dame, 42-14 for the title. Notre Dame was ranked #4 in the final regular season measures, behind Oregon and Texas A&M.

So, take heart, SportsMeasures’ work is absolutely reliable and our weekly rankings reflect exactly what is currently happening in the high school and college football seasons. As the season progresses the opinion polls and SportsMeasures’ Pyramid Rankings will come into a high degree of synchronicity. The cream always rises to the top and our measures reflect that truth.

The degree to which the rankings remain disparate as the season grows older shows the inaccuracy of opinion polls. Many times reputation buys a team a lot of undeserved stock value. Our work shows which teams truly are the best.

*The author is a graduate of The University of Chicago

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