The Royal Heffernans

Quite possibly the best family ever

Monday, November 12, 2012

Style Points

As of the latest BCS rankings released last night, Notre Dame sits at #3. There are a lot of arguments for and against each remaining unranked team for claiming the top two spots and, thus, places in the BCS national championship game. I don't like getting pulled into that conversation, but Brian Kelly said something in his weekly press conference yesterday that really caught my attention.

A lot of the arguments against Notre Dame have included the phrase "style points." Sure, Notre Dame is 10-0, but they only eked by Purdue and they needed three overtimes to beat Pittsburgh! They just don't have the "style points." Well, here was Kelly's quote when asked about those "style points":
If you want style points, look at our defense, look at the schedule we played, 10 FBS teams.
It's a fantastic quote because it dismisses this bullshit subjective metric while at the same time reminding people of the hypocrisy of dismissing Notre Dame's defense.

Teams from the SEC have won the past six (6) national championships. They have done so with defense. All those low-scoring SEC games between LSU and Alabama are spoken of in reverent tones as defensive masterpieces. "Oregon is a joke!" they say,  "Let's see how effective that blur offense is against a decent SEC defense!" Teams from the SEC have no style points. What they have are crazy good defenses and, sadly and more importantly, they have a reputation. They came into the season with high rankings.

Notre Dame does not have those luxuries. They have 20 years of futility and incredibly low expectations coming into the season because of their impossible schedule (which is now, ironically but not surprisingly, being downplayed). So now all of a sudden Notre Dame is fielding a defense that is every bit as good as those lauded SEC defenses - both statistically and through the "eyeball test." Notre Dame's defense is led by Manti Te'o, who many consider not only the best defensive player in the country, but the best player in the country. Yet now, because it's Notre Dame with that crazy good defense they're being dismissed for the very same reasons that Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and South Carolina are still in the top 10, despite all of those teams having at least 1 loss and two of them (LSU and South Carolina) having 2 losses.

So this is nothing new. The media is changing their song to suit their Notre Dame bias. As I said in a comment to Ted's post the other day, I'm fine with that. I just want to see Notre Dame go undefeated. I'll root like hell along the way for Kansas State and Oregon to get upset, but at the end of the day I'll be content not having to see Notre Dame lose. It's just disappointing that such a blatantly flawed metric is still perpetuated and the upcoming playoff format will do nothing to change this - it will just leave it to a selection cabal and push the frustration a few slots down in the rankings. Go Irish!


Colin and Liz said...

I planned to spend my lunch hour researching metrics supporting the supremacy of ND over KSU. However, I decided that I will wait until after the USC game, and will instead spend my lunch hour staring blankly at a wall.

Teddy said...

Colin, don't waste your time. It's been done very well:

Teddy said...

Here are the remaining games with my own odds at the favorite winning:

KSU @ Baylor: 90%
Texas @ KSU: 70%

Stanford @ Oregon: 75%
Oregon @ OSU: 85%
USC/UCLA @ Oregon: 70%

Wake @ ND: 90%
ND @ USC: 60%

As you can see, I think ND has the toughest obstacle remaining. Use a little bit of math and you see how the scenarios could play out. Adjust the percentages yourself if you think my odds are off.

Chances of staying undefeated: KSU: 63%
Oregon: 44.6%
ND: 54%

There is still a decent shot one of these teams loses. We need to take care of USC.

Style points, eye test, backloaded schedule, conference championship. These words all MAKE ME PUKE! ND is a great team, and any excuse possible to hold us back is being used.

You want an eye test? Our running game and sustained drive offense would control the clock on Oregon They have so many injuries and holes on D, I don't think they could stop us. Did you see what Cal was doing to them?

I don't see KSU scoring 21 on our D, and I think Golson can create enough to win convincingly against their D, as we've played much tougher D's.

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