Computer Polls Display Early Bias

· Oct 3, 2001 Tweet

Critics of the Bowl Championship Series will have more ammunition for future arguments on the validity of the formula that determines the national-championship match-up.

The Seattle Times reported Tuesday that the Anderson & Hester Seattle Times computer rankings have the Washington Huskies as its No. 1 team.

Chris Hester and Jeff Anderson, who devised the computer rankings for the newspaper, are University of Washington graduates. This year, the BCS will use eight computer polls — including the one from the Seattle Times — but won’t come out with its first standings until Oct. 15.

The Huskies are 3-0 with victories over Michigan, Idaho and California. Washington is currently ranked 10th in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll and 11th in the Associated Press top 25. Miami and Florida are consensus 1-2 teams in both polls.

“I’m not happy about it, because I knew this question was coming,” Hester told the Times on Monday after the first weekly release of the rankings. “Really, right now there are so few games that one big win can propel you above the rest.”

Washington is not alone in earning a top ranking that appears biased by region. Of the eight computer rankings systems used by the BCS, seven released rankings this week, with six different No. 1 teams.

Among them, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s rankings, compiled by Wes Colley, rates South Carolina as No. 1; Richard Billingsley, based in Hugo, Okla., is one of two rankings listing Oklahoma as the top team; Kenneth Massey, a Ph.D. candidate in the Mathematics department at Virginia Tech, lists the Big East’s Miami as No. 1 and Virginia Tech No. 5; and David Rothman, based in Hawthorne, Calif., rates Florida No. 1 but lists four Pac-10 teams in his top 10 and seven in his top 25.

“Washington’s stay at No. 1 will be short-lived if the Huskies don’t play better than they have so far. Their high-wire act will only take them so far,” Anderson wrote in an e-mail message to “But we don’t predict; we only record team’s accomplishments.”

In explaining how the weight given to Washington’s victory over Michigan was reflected in the rankings, Anderson wrote, “. . . No other team has beaten a team that has performed as well to date as Michigan.”

“There’s no such thing as unbiased, because each ranking decides what to include or not include,” Hester said to the Times. “In the course of a season, I’ll receive 30 to 60 e-mails a day and 95 percent will say I’m an idiot — no matter who’s ranked No. 1.”

– compiled from wire reports


This article was published Oct 3, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Oct 3, 2001 at 12:00 am


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