The BCS Formula: Bad Will Hunting

November 29, 1999

Eight computer rankings? Two polls? The radius of Beano Cook?
Who can understand the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) college
football ratings? You, now that we can finally reveal the
elements of the simple mathematical equation behind it.

n: Rank by David Rothman's computer, though Rothman, a rocket
statistician, hasn't gone to a football game since the 1963 Rose
Bowl.

D: Rank by the Dunkel computer, which has Nebraska in first
place, but only because Knute Rockne died.

S: Rank by the Anderson & Hester/Seattle Times computer, which
doesn't take into account scores of games. According to the
Times the iceberg would be ranked No. 1, with Titanic a close
second.

R: Number of times Amos Alonzo Stagg just rolled over in his
grave.

$: Sale price of a four-cylinder 2000 Suzuki Heisman.

¬ø: IQ of Kansas defensive end Dion Rayford, who tried to crawl
through the drive-through window of a Taco Bell last week because
he was angry at an employee who failed to give him his chalupa.

[Integral]: Fudge factor in the formula that allows Alabama
(rated eighth by the BCS) to be ranked behind Florida (fifth),
despite having beaten the Gators; Texas (ninth) behind Nebraska
(third), despite having beaten the Cornhuskers; Arkansas (16th)
behind Tennessee (fourth), despite having beaten the Volunteers.

mc2: Rank by the Kenneth Massey computer. Massey just happens to
be a grad student in the Virginia Tech math department and just
happens to rank the Hokies second and just happens to be taking
a course called ISE 5405: Optimization (A+, Ken).

.95: Special 95% Peter Warrick discount.

T: Twinkie factor, computed by multiplying Virginia Tech's margin
of victory over eclairs James Madison, Rutgers and Temple by the
number of people who are impressed.

[Psi]: Number of teeth in Virginia Tech home crowd divided
by number of shoes. (Usually equals 1.)

[Heart]: Lovey-dovey quotient given to SEC member Tennessee,
which is ranked seventh by the coaches and sixth by the writers
but fourth by the BCS, whose rankings just happen to be
calculated at SEC headquarters.

cor: Number of Vols who think they drive a Toyota Corollary.

[Delta]: Average weight of your school's Delta Gamma sisters.

cos: Number of Vols who had boosters cosign on their Toyota
Corollaries.

V: Rank in the AP poll, whose 70 college football writers might
know a little more about the game than a math grad student yet
count for less than 0.18% each toward the BCS rankings, 17 times
less than the grad student.

[Theta]: Times easily duped Arizona State running back J.R.
Redmond has had marriages annulled.

[Pi]: Rank of pie in food ratings by unmarried stat freak
Richard Billingsley, who runs one of the BCS computer rankings
and also informally rates his favorite foods.

A: Rank in USA Today/ESPN poll, whose 59 college coaches damn
sure know more about football than a math grad student yet count
for less than 0.22% each, 14 times less than the grad student.

[Infinity]: Number of points Florida State would score against
Virginia Tech in the national title game at the Sugar Bowl.

[Sigma]: Military rank of Texas quarterback Major Applewhite.

[Beta]: Number of cornerbacks peeled weekly out of Wisconsin
running back Ron Dayne's cleats.

!: Bowl Championship Series? What series? There's no series.
It's one game! A series is exactly what we need! On Dec. 11 we
could be snuggling up to our Sonys for the start of a real
championship series. Four games that day, two the next Saturday;
then, on New Year's Day, the first real college football title
game. Instead we get a lot of basement-living computer geeks,
who haven't had a date since their aunt's fruitcake, deciding
the fate of 250-pound linebackers. Sigh.

Z: Short for zzzzz, which we're all going to be bagging if the
title game is Florida State-Virginia Tech, a matchup that will be
as one-sided as a Cuban mayoral race. Seriously, if we don't get
a playoff soon, I'm telling Dion you jacked his chalupa.

COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA B/W ILLUSTRATION

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)