Monday, November 28, 2005

John Walters: almost... but just a smidge too biased

John Walters, CNNsi's resident Irish defender, writes about the BCS selection, specifically the Fiesta. Seems like he's just yearning to write a critical study of the BCS, but he just can't help himself and reluctantly embraces the BCS because of their love of the Irish.

First, he uses a statistical ranking system to try to come up with an objectively fair method of selecting teams. An admirable effort, though there's a pretty easy to spot flaw in his method. Without getting into it too much, he uses rankings instead of raw numbers, which is a flawed way of looking at things. If the difference between 3rd place and 20th place is 2.5 points per game, using the rankings overaccentuates the difference. But at least he's trying to get away from the subjective opinion based faux insight so many writers rely on.

He then says Auburn and Penn State should play in the Fiesta, but doesn't really provide rationale for it. At least he admits he doesn't have a way to prove it (though in this instance, I suspect he's qualifying with the "no proof" out of respect for his beloved Irish).

But then the train goes off the rails:

The Irish and Buckeyes will travel to Tempe not because they have the most storied programs. No, it's because they have the most marquee players.
Players create storylines. Storylines create ratings. Do you think the people in Pasadena mind that the likely top three Heisman finalists will all be playing in the same game on Jan. 4?

John, John, John. You were so close. Yes, storylines are one of the main reasons why Notre Dame and Ohio State will likely play in the Fiesta Bowl. But "Players" don't create storylines. Writers and Editors do. If CBS had spent the entire year showing Auburn games and talking about the emergence of Brandon Cox or the dominance of Marcus McNeill, perhaps those names would be more marquee? Can you say with a straight face that Darius Walker is a marquee player and Irons isn't? Guess what... Irons has more yards, a better yard per carry average, and more than twice as many TDs. And you're right that you probably don't know about Irons unless you live near a Waffle House. And that's the problem with the system!

He is right that the storylines which have emerged will affect the bowl selections. But this is just what is so wrong about this sport. All that should matter is the game itself. And it is a fact that one or two teams has received more hype from the TV producers, national writers, and other assorted supposed knowitalls and then it just so happens to lead to their selection and millions more dollars toward those particular schools... To suggest that Ohio State and Notre Dame are deserving because of their own hype, just boggles the mind.

And since John's beloved Irish happen to benefit from this, he covers for the broken system.

Just sad. You were almost there.