The e-mail landed not long after last week's Power Rankings were published. The subject line? "OK, maybe I deserve that ..."
Actually, Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal didn't deserve the scorn I heaped upon him in the introduction to last week's rankings. I questioned how Anderson could possibly rank Wisconsin 10 spots below an Ohio State team it had just beaten. I assumed Anderson was one of those voters -- and there are a few -- who don't pay attention to the games. In fact, the Wisconsin/Ohio State gaffe came because Anderson is trying something different this season in an attempt to rank teams without bias.
In past seasons, Anderson ranked teams the same way most of us -- including me -- do, using research, personal observations and gut instincts to formulate the rankings. Our intentions are noble, but the fact of the matter is that none of us can completely eliminate bias no matter how hard we try. (Not necessarily for where we went to school, but for the teams we've seen more.)
Anderson has attempted to eliminate that bias this season by using a point system. He was kind enough to share it with SI.com. Here it is. (For reference purposes, here is Anderson's ballot for this week.)
* Ten points per victory.
* One point for each opponent's victory, except for FCS opponents (no points).
* One point for every 10-point margin of victory (minus a point for every 10 points in a loss). In other words, if a team wins by 32 points, it gets three points in addition to the 10 for the victory.
* Total points divided by games played. Ranking by average. "I break any ties," Anderson wrote. "Auburn and TCU tied on my ballot, but I had Auburn ahead going into the week and kept it that way. There also were ties between Wisconsin and LSU (I believe Wisconsin has the stronger résumé), Arizona and Florida State (I think Arizona is playing better) and Mississippi State and Hawaii (Bulldogs already were ranked)."
Anderson evaluates teams in the same fashion as the computer polls that make up part of the BCS formula. That approach eliminates plenty of biases, but it also produces some curious results such as the Ohio State/Wisconsin situation. Anderson joked that he knows he'll get a ton of hate mail now that the formula is public. So be nice, folks. Anderson is a poll voter making an honest effort to rank teams as fairly as possible.
If only all the voters in the polls that actually count in the BCS rankings put forth so much effort.
NCAA Football Power Rankings