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Expansion Thoughts and Power Ratings

Expansion Thoughts

The conference expansion/re-alignment situation to me is very similar to all the talk earlier this year of the NCAA Basketball tournament expanding. While I do not follow college basketball, it seemed like every day I turned on SportsCenter I would hear the rumors and possibilities of the tournament expanding to 96 teams but when it was all said and done only three teams were added.

With the news of Texas deciding to stay with the Big 12 (or is it now the new Big Ten?), I think all the expansion talk of there being four 16 super conferences will probably go by the wayside. All the talk about the Big East and ACC being in danger seems moot and I think Utah going to the Pac-10 should probably close all the moves as I do not feel the Big 12 will expand as they will not want to divide the TV pie up among two more teams.

Naturally the Big Ten is now a stronger conference with the addition of Nebraska and are clearly the #2 conference behind the SEC now. The WAC was dealt a severe blow with the loss of Boise to the MWC.

What I do not understand in this whole mess is how the Big 12 can lose two teams with one of them being Nebraska and go from a 70 million dollar TV contract to a 200 million dollar deal. Obviously Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe did a great job of convincing Texas to stay and I am sure Kansas, Kansas St, Baylor and Iowa St fans are glad he did.

Power Ratings

If you are a follower of my magazine, I am sure you are familiar with the fact that I have NINE different sets of power ratings that I create each preseason to give me 9 different ways of analyzing a team. One is based on the individual talent level and performance of each position on each team and those are added up for the rating. Another is based on my Power Plays numbers, which include rushing and passing offenses, defenses and special teams. Another is a continually updated power rating based on the score of the games and the strength of opponent. Finally a few years back, before computers became part of the BCS rankings system, there was without a doubt some flaws in the polls. Teams rated #2 or #3 in the country really were not that talented and were maybe the 5th or 6th best. One internet site decided to produce a poll of some of the top analysts and experts each week and invited me to join. I myself work 365 days a year. During magazine time (March, April, May) and throughout the football season (August through January) there are many 15-18 hour days put in and all of them are spent solely working on FOOTBALL. When they invited me to join the poll, I wanted to give them the best set of power ratings in the country to help make the poll as accurate as possible. The dilemma I had was which set?

What I decided to do was combine all eight into one rating which gives me a very solid overall ranking for each team. The rating takes into account EVERY factor, using it as my main set of power ratings which thus created my 9th set. You can learn more about this main set of power ratings on page 315 of this year’s magazine. I also go into complete details on my plus/minus power ratings on page 305.

When I have all of my sets of power ratings finalized I then plug them into each individual team’s schedule and let the computer play out each game using the different power ratings. My computer will then show me which teams that have one or more sets of Power Ratings calling for them to have undefeated seasons. Naturally, if a team is projected at the top of my Power Ratings, it has a greater chance of going unbeaten. 

Here are the teams that are projected to have undefeated seasons by at least one of my power ratings this year.

Power Ratings Call For 12-0 Season

Team # of Sets
Oklahoma 9
Ohio St 8
Nebraska 6
Alabama 6
Oregon 5
Boise St 3
Arkansas 2
Houston 2
Connecticut 1
N Illinois 1
Miami, Fl 1

This list of teams has proven to be a good indicator of the chances of an undefeated season. In 2002, three sets of my ratings called for Ohio St to go unbeaten and the Buckeyes were the surprise team of the country and won the National Title. Basically any team that has finished unbeaten in the past 8 years has made this list.

Here are some teams that just missed the cut.

Power Ratings Call For 11-1 Season

Team # of Sets Team Losing To
Middle Tenn 8 Georgia Tech
Stanford 3 Oregon
Virginia Tech 3 North Carolina
Florida 2 Alabama
Notre Dame 1 USC
Texas Tech 1 Oklahoma
Boston College 1 Florida St
Auburn 1 Alabama
Michigan 1 Ohio St

I am sure you are wondering why I am so fascinated and dependent on power ratings when analyzing a team in the preseason and during the season. I am in my late 40’s and I started following college football with great intensity at about 10 years old. At that time (being a numbers guy) I devised my own set of power ratings, which was based mostly on where the preseason magazines I was reading ranked the teams. I even awarded points at that time for how many pictured players each team had in the magazines. I updated those ratings during the season based on the final scores of the games.

A few years later after compiling my ratings (and no longer counting pictures), I stumbled upon the GamePlan magazine. In the front of the magazine was a set of power ratings for each team!! I now had two sets of power ratings on each team and I updated them both during the year giving me two different ways of looking at the strength of a team and I was well on my way to nine different sets.

Also please check PhilSteele.com everyday to get my Top 30 Countdown, which posted #3 Alabama yesterday. Through Thursday, I will post both magazine pages on a new team ranked in the Top 30 and you can get an early look at my breakdown of your favorite team. Remember those magazine pages are available for only 24 hours for you to download. Today, Ohio St comes in at #2.

Last week we opened the polls on the homepage for you, the fans to vote on each and every conference matchup for eight conferences. Last year you guys were more accurate than any other college preview publication and this is a great way for me to gauge how the public views each game. When you vote you have the entire conference schedule in front of you and the home team is capitalized. Get your votes in today and see how the fans think the big games like Oklahoma-Texas, Ohio St at Iowa, Florida St at Miami, Fl and West Virginia at Pittsburgh are going to shake out! To vote you do have to register your e-mail address but this is just to make sure there is no stuffing of the ballot box.


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  • Conair3007

    I feel the BIG12 will add two more teams so they can have a conference championship game,this will bring in additional revenue and give the two teams and extra game to prepare for the bowls instead of a big layoff.The question is what two teams?Since TCU just joined the Big East and I doubt that Arkansas will leave the Southeastern conference so other possible additions to the BIG 12 might be Houston,Cincinnati,BYU,Louisville or Northern Illinois to capture the Chicago market and media.