The Competitive Index: Out of Conference Schedule Strength

The typical poll relies on several subjective metrics to evaluate a team: "The eyeball test", "swagger", or even "the hype factor." And in order to maintain the momentum required to meet these metrics, we find teams straying away from scheduling decent out of conference games on a regular basis. We struggle to evaluate teams on a national level because there is so little inter-conference play. Two of 12 or 13 games are BCS v. BCS conference games. So, I developed a rating system based on the past 5 years of SEC and ACC out of conference football.

A game of value or GOV is equal to playing a BCS opponent because the teams are hypothetically equally matched in access to finances and scholarships (~50% chance of victory). So 1 GOV = GT versus Notre Dame or UGA. The ACC+SEC have defeated 85% of the midmajor teams and 96% of the I-AA teams they have faced on the field so naturally the GOV rating is much lower for scheduling weaker opponents. You would have to play 3.35 midmajors or 12.70 I-AA games to match the same amount of risk of defeat as playing a single BCS opponent. So a midmajor only yields 3/10 GOV and a I-AA yields 2/25 GOV. Based on these criteria and the last 5 years of football, here is how the 28 current ACC and SEC teams rank:

Rank Team GOV Rank Team GOV
1 Pitt 18.30 15 Bama 12.92
2 Miami 16.51 16 VT 12.89
3 'Cuse 16.40 17 MD 12.78
4 Wake 16.03 18 NCSU 12.56
5 Clemson 15.96 19 LSU 12.52
6 GT 15.96 20 UVA 12.48
7 Mizzou 15.78 21 Tenn. 12.03
8 TAMU 15.74 22 BC 11.90
9 FSU 15.29 23 KY 11.67
10 UF 15.00 24 Duke 11.48
11 UGA 14.48 25 UNC 11.13
12 USC 14.18 26 Miss. St. 9.27
13 Vandy 13.62 27 Ole Miss 7.05
14 Auburn 13.08 28 Ark. 6.97

I also used the same formula to develop a wins of value (WOV) and production efficiency (M%). A BCS victory = 1 WOV while the midmajor win was only 3/10 WOV and a I-AA was 2/25 WOV. You don't get rewarded for scheudling and beating patsies. The production efficiency shows how the team would have theoretically fared against an 100% BCS out of conference schedule.

Rank Team WOV M% Rank Team WOV M%
1 Mizzou 13.78 0.87 15 Clemson 5.96 0.37
2 UF 12.00 0.80 16 NCSU 5.96 0.47
3 LSU 11.52 0.92 17 'Cuse 5.81 0.35
4 Bama 10.62 0.82 18 TAMU 4.44 0.28
5 Auburn 10.08 0.77 19 Tenn. 5.74 0.48
6 UGA 9.88 0.68 20 Miss. St. 5.67 0.61
7 USC 9.18 0.65 21 UVA 5.51 0.44
8 KY 8.67 0.74 22 Ole Miss 5.38 0.76
9 Miami 8.51 0.52 23 Vandy 5.32 0.39
10 FSU 8.29 0.54 24 BC 5.31 0.45
11 Wake 8.13 0.51 25 Ark. 4.97 0.71
12 Pitt 7.40 0.40 26 UNC 4.83 0.43
13 GT 7.37 0.46 27 Duke 4.73 0.41
14 VT 7.22 0.56 28 MD 4.18 0.33

The final chart I calculated was losses of value. A loss against a lower tier team is iversely proportional to a win. Therefore, a loss to JMU = 12.70 LOV while a loss to Kansas = 1 LOV. I also added a net, which was the WOV - LOV. To me, this is perception because every loss to a I-AA is literally a huge PR nightmare (see App State at Michigan).

Rank Team LOV Net Rank Team LOV Net
1 LSU 0.50 11.02 15 Miss. St. 8.21 -2.53
2 Ark. 1.00 3.97 16 UGA 8.71 1.18
3 UF 1.50 10.50 17 NCSU 9.71 -3.74
4 Auburn 1.50 8.58 18 BC 9.71 -4.40
5 KY 1.50 7.17 19 GT 10.71 -3.34
6 Mizzou 2.00 11.78 20 MD 10.71 -6.52
7 USC 2.50 6.68 21 Wake 13.56 -5.43
8 FSU 3.50 4.79 22 TAMU 14.35 -9.91
9 Miami 4.00 4.51 23 'Cuse 16.71 -10.90
10 Bama 4.35 6.27 24 Ole Miss 19.91 -14.53
11 Clemson 5.00 0.96 25 Pitt 20.06 -12.66
12 Tenn. 6.35 -0.62 26 VT 21.91 -14.69
13 UNC 6.35 -1.52 27 UVA 25.76 -20.25
14 Vandy 7.35 -2.03 28 Duke 35.11 -30.38

Any thoughts on the system? It strongly discourages scheduling strong I-AA teams and it unfairly gives Kansas more weight than an Alabama. However, a more complicated system could pull conference or individual team but then you'd have teams feigning from competition again.

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