Monte Carlo Analysis — Nebraska’s and Michigan’s chances for the Big10 title have collapsed

Not surprising given their losses over the weekend. I reran my “Monte Carlo analysis”:http://theludwigs.com/2011/11/a-monte-carlo-simulation-of-the-big10-race/ from last week and Michigan gets to the title game only 5 out of 10,000 runs now. Nebraska has only about a 6% chance. MSU is in clear control.

Nothing really changed in the Leaders Division. PSU didn’t play, Wisconsin and Ohio State beat teams they were expected to beat. PSU still has the inside track. Wisconsin and OSU still have excellent chances to get to the title game.

One could ask why I am dorking around with this? Well, the current computer rankings for NCAA football teams are largely theoretical garbage and lack transparency. I am curious if a more open, theoretically more sound ranking system could be developed. Modeling a full season of outcomes is one part of such a system. The other part has to be the feed-in probabilities for each of the games, which I haven’t attacked, but have some ideas about.

Today’s NCAA FB roundup — reactions to Buckeyes andUSC; required NCAA FB reading

I watched bits of LSU/WVU (LSU is my #1), Toledo/Syracuse, ND/Pitt, UW/Cal. But key games I watched yesterday were OSU and USC.

* OSU is in for a tough year. Yes they tackled better yesterday, but it was Colorado. If we give up 17 to Colorado, we will give up 24+ to MSU/Nebraska/Wisconsin, and the OSU offense does not have the firepower to score enough against those teams. I’m glad Braxton and other young players are getting the reps, this is a team for next year.
* USC shot themselves in the foot over and over again, and Erickson was clearly the best coach out there. The ASU offensive game plan and adjustments were very effective and USC could never crack it.

On broader college football issues, if you haven’t already seen the below, read immediately. As money continues to pour into the sport, the issues discussed are going to become more prominent, not less.

* If you haven’t already read the “the Quad’s story on college football fan distribution”:http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/19/the-geography-of-college-football-fans-and-realignment-chaos/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nyt%2Frss%2FSports+%28NYT+%3E+Sports%29&seid=auto&smid=tw-nytimessports, do so. Excellent explanation of the market facts underpinning realignment chaos.
* “Study about poverty and student-athletes (PDF)”:http://assets.usw.org/ncpa/The-Price-of-Poverty-in-Big-Time-College-Sport.pdf. Excellent, record revenues and expenditures in college football, but many players struggle.
* Of course. the “Atlantic article”:http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/10/the-shame-of-college-sports/8643/ on the inherently corrupt economics of college football.

And on a lighter note, “Matt Sarz’s TV listings”:http://mattsarzsports.com/football2011.aspx. Finding USC on the Root network last night was tricky.

College football amateurism — time to go

Kirk Cousins, the returning MSU QB, got all kinds of kudos over the last week for his nice speech about what a privilege it is to play college football, but I am underwhelmed. As others point out — “Kirk Cousins and Privilege”:http://www.elevenwarriors.com/2011/08/kirk-cousins-privledge — Kirk is letting himself be used by the monied powers in the system to protect their interests. The schools, the NCAA, the media companies are making billions of dollars off of college sports, and throwing peanuts to the players. And the players don’t even have a voice in the system — maybe the players would vote to spend all the proceeds from their sports on non-revenue sports, on university facilities, on salaries for university staffers, etc — but shouldn’t they at least have a say? Kirk, being part of a football team at a good college is a great experience, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are being used.

Frank Deford says it well — “Frank Deford on amateurism”:http://www.npr.org/2011/08/03/138919312/ncaa-still-stalled-by-amateur-hour-thinking. The time has come to abandon the amateurism requirement for college athletes in the revenue sports. A family friend made this same argument to me today in an email, I am all for it.

Other college football reading today — “Bodog season win total odds”:http://sports.bodog.eu/sports-betting/college-football-team-props.jsp (hattip @darrenrovell). OSU and Wisconsin both at 9. I’d take the over on both.

10 Reasons to Hate Arkansas…

I don’t really have any feelings good or bad about Arkansas, but of course now that they are the Buckeyes’ next opponent, I have to foster a deep hatred of all things Arkansas. Here’s a quick list:

# Walmart. Destroying the retail economies of small towns all over America, while sending jobs to China.
# Philandering ex-president. And if you are going to be a philanderer, at least do it well. “Ohio’s philandering president”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_G._Harding was a much better philanderer, actually having a child out of wedlock.
# Philandering president’s wife. Hilary stood by her man and swallowed her pride. “Harding’s wife probably poisoned him”:http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/terrorists_spies/assassins/warren_harding/6.html. I know who I want with me in a fight.
# The name means “land of downriver people”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkansas as in “Don’t drink the water there, the Midwest has been dumping its crap in the rivers forever and letting it flow downstream”.
# Ryan Mallett. Once a Michigan man, always a Michigan man. The taint of Michigan will doom him.
# No MLB, NFL, NBA teams in the state. Hardly qualifies as a state.
# Arkansas’s favorite son, Scottie Pippen, Jordan’s bag carrier.
# The name, again. Most of it stolen from Kansas. And can’t be bothered to say the last letter — do they think this is France?
# S-E-C! I’m sure Arkansas fans will trot this out, but remind them: Arkansas has been getting waxed by the same SEC leaders for years…
# Arkansas in name only. The majority of the “roster”:http://www.arkansasrazorbacks.com/SportSelect.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=6100&SPID=2419&SPSID=30724 is from other states. This is basically an indictment of the quality of football player in Arkansas. The team is really the Texas/Louisiana/Georgia/Oklahoma/Alabama/Florida Razorbacks.