Home Field Edge Explained
I have gotten many requests to do a blog to explain how I compute each teams home field edge in the magazine. I have 27 different factors in my computer’s grade of a team. I then compare the computer’s analysis to my own and make the final decision.
While I mention that there are 27 factors in my home field computer ratings, there are actually 9 individual factors that I use each year and I then combine the grades for the last 3 years giving half of the grade to last year, 30% to the numbers from two years ago and 20% to the computer rankings from 3 years ago.
Today I will go over the 9 different areas that I use to rate home field edge.
The first category is the stadium capacity. The largest stadium in the country last year was Michigan which held 106,201 and my computer gave them the maximum score of 6 for that category. My home field edges go from 0 to 6 in the magazine so they have the same scale in the computer. The smallest capacity is Idaho’s Kibbie Dome which seated just 16,000 and they received a 0 in that category. The rest of the capacities are done with a simple equation of Capacity-16,000 divided by 15,034. The reason I divide by 15,034 is that Michigan at 106,201-16,000 = 90,201 and 90,201 divided by 6 (0-6 scale) = 15,034. You can figure out what your favorite team is graded in this category by using this simple equation.
The second category is actual attendance reported by the school in 2008. Once again Michigan was at the top with 108,571 and this time the team at the bottom was Kent St which averaged just 10,639 fans per game last year. I used the same method as above to turn this data into a 0 to 6 rating where Michigan received a 6, Kent St a 0 and as an example Idaho with an attendance of 15,340 earned a 0.29 grade.
The third category is % of capacity. Let’s face it, a crowd of 45,000 in a 45,000 seat stadium is louder than a crowd of 45,000 in a half-full 90,000 seat stadium. The winner in this category last year was Oregon at 108% of capacity as they had an avg attendance of 58,444 with a listed capacity of 54,000. There were 20 schools that had a larger average attendance than their listed capacity last year. At the bottom of this category was Temple which brought in an average of 15,582 fans to their 68,532 seat stadium which is just 22.7%. Three teams had an average attendance of less than 30% capacity and 8 had an average attendance of less than 50% of capacity.
The next category is last years SU win/loss record for each team at home. There were 18 teams last year that finished with an undefeated record at home while there were 3 teams last year that were actually winless at home. Those 3 teams were North Texas, Idaho and Washington.
The fifth category is the last 3 years SU records at home. Oklahoma, Boise St and BYU are all undefeated at home in that span and USC is 17-1. At the bottom of the scale are Duke, Idaho and FIU who have each won just 3 home games in the last 3 years but Duke has 16 losses for the worst record while Idaho has 14 and FIU just 10. Once again this is on a 0-6 point basis.
The next category is the last 5 years records at home. Boise St comes in #1 here at a perfect 32-0 with Oklahoma and USC each losing just 1 game at home. Florida, Wisconsin and Texas are next up with just 3 losses. Duke is at the bottom at 6-24 over 5 years while Washington is 7-25 and Idaho is 6-18.
Sometimes teams compile great home records because they play a bunch of cupcakes. Sometimes teams compile a weak record because they play a large amount of ranked teams. The easiest way to determine if a team played above or below expectations is to look at their records against the Las Vegas spread. If a team was favored to win by 30 that means the opponent was weak and a 3 point win is unimpressive vs that caliber of opponent. I weigh each of the different factors and the actual home win record is given twice the weight of the ATS record. I used the records for last year, the last 3 years and the last 5 years. The best record over the last 5 years is UCLA at 24-8 with TCU #2 at 20-7 and Kansas #3 at 21-8. At the bottom are Western Kentucky at 1-6, Washington at 9-23 and Duke at 8-18.
I then factor in the 9 categories from the 2007 and 2006 seasons which gives me 27 categories for the computer to factor in and I have them appropriately weighted. The final category is my own personal grade. I have 12 TV’s in front of me and watch 12 games all day long on Saturday and watch every nighttime game on ESPN. I can hear the crowd noise at each stadium and I weigh in how many times I thought it was a factor in a game. I look at how good the team has been the last 5 years and what percentage of games they win at home and on the road in my personal evaluation. The computer has Oklahoma #1 at 5.5 home edge with USC #2 at 5.25 and Ohio St #3 at 5.2. At the bottom the computer has Duke #120 at 1.229, Utah St #119 at 1.56 and Idaho #118 at 1.64.
Finally I look at the computer’s grade and then tweak it to where I think it should be. I gave two teams a 6 point home edge in this year’s magazine in Virginia Tech and Boise St. Oklahoma, Penn St and Texas Tech all earned 5.5 grades from me. At the bottom of the scale I gave a 2 point home edge to Duke, FIU, Kent St and Eastern Michigan. To see the home edge I gave your favorite team check out the right hand magazine page in my national magazine.
Writing this article I have just come up with at least 4 new categories for next year’s home field analysis. I will include how many upsets a team has pulled at home and how many times a team suffered an upset loss at home. I will also include how many ranked teams each squad faced at home and what there record was. If there are any other categories you think I should include in my computer’s analysis of home field edge for next year, please comment at the bottom of this post.
Also in next year’s magazine I will include a road power rating for each team and use the contrast between home and away performances to reflect in each!