Thursday, September 30, 2010

College Football Week 5

Imagine what it's like living in SEC country. The Tampa Bay Rays are in first place, a half game ahead of the New York Yankees. They are young; they are exciting. Two seasons ago, they surged all the way to the World Series, only to be denied in the end by a damn good Philadelphia Phillies team and some freakish torrential downpours that provided no momentum for anyone. And now they're back to try again, as they once again clinched a playoff spot, coming from the toughest division in baseball to do so. But then there's this. How is this possible? If the Kansas City Royals fielded a team even close to the Rays' caliber, our town would be painted blue. We would have parades every day. Our city would no longer be called "City of Fountains," but instead the "City of Parades." But we don't have a team like theirs. Not even close. So we just move on to our Chiefs, our Jayhawks, our Tigers and our Wildcats. We embrace football just like everyone else, all the while dreaming of the Big 12 basketball season to come. The Royals are a void that remains unrealized for 25 years and counting.

Football season, just like everyone else. Well...not exactly "everyone" else. Because the reason, as pathetic as it may seem, that the Rays can't find their fans is because they don't really have them. Nobody cares about sports in SEC country, they only care about 1 sport, college football. I don't like it, you probably don't either. MLB definitely does not like it. But here's what can be said on behalf of SEC people, this sport they do pay attention to, the one they fill the stadiums for: at least they are very, very good at it. They win every year. They snatch up the National Championships and they win the majority of their Bowl games. And their non-conference schedules before they tee off against each other? They win those too. And unlike some of the teams getting dropped in my rankings because of poor competition, the SEC teams schedule real, intriguing match ups. And win. My top 25 this week:

1 Florida (4-0)
2 Auburn (4-0)
3 Alabama (4-0)
4 LSU (4-0)
5 Arizona (4-0)
6 Oklahoma (4-0)
7 TCU (4-0)
8 Missouri (4-0)
9 USC (4-0)
10 Ohio State (4-0)
11 West Virginia (3-1)
12 Stanford (4-0)
13 Kansas State (4-0)
14 Boise State (3-0)
15 Oregon (4-0)
16 North Carolina State (4-0)
17 Michigan (4-0)
18 South Carolina (3-1)
19 Northwestern (4-0)
20 Toledo (3-1)
21 Nebraska (4-0)
22 Penn State (3-1)
23 Temple (3-1)
24 Utah (4-0)
25 Wisconsin (4-0)

Notice a trend here. Unlike last season, in which I made it virtually impossible for a team to be passed in the standings without losing, this season is ever changing from week to week. The reason for this is simple, my standings are not only responsive to how a team does in a given week, but also how their prior opponents fared that same weekend. So a team such as TCU, who was just last weekend glorified for having beaten 2 otherwise unbeaten BCS conference teams, saw Oregon State tumble again and will also likely see Baylor visit darker days before too long. I have never been a fan of the theory that games later in the season are of more significance than games played early on, but by the same token a team shouldn't receive too much credit for exactly the opposite either. The inherent problem with football in general, is that the sample size of an entire season never seems adequate enough to really create much separation amongst the top teams. This is the very reason I am supportive of the NFL's recent decision to expand the schedules to 18 games. The more games, the more likely we are to see the best teams eligible for post-season play. College football, of course is even fewer games then the inadequate 16 games that the NFL is expanding from. A tournament would go a long way to help resolve that, but hey, we don't have it, so the best approach is to consistently evaluate a team's success and the successes of their opponents. And all games are to be evenly evaluated, regardless of at what point in the season the victories and defeats took place.

In last week's comments, my friend Kevin said this: "You make an assumption that Boise State has the ability to schedule more quality non-con games. Most high-level opponents are loathe to play them. Certainly nobody wants to do a home and away series with Boise. When Boise has offered to play people at their houses no-strings-attached, they are still rejected. The money is not that great, you get zero credit for beating them, and god forbid you lose to them. Props to VA-Tech and Oregon State for stepping up. Search your soul and honestly tell me that you don't think Boise is one of the ten best teams in college football, let alone top twenty. Do the right thing kyle."

First of all, yes, my soul tells me that Boise State is very good, one of the best teams in the country. So why play the games then? The entirety of a season is important for earning championships, not just being gifted one. My soul is not objective and should not be trusted. But beating good teams leaves little doubt, and Boise added one this past weekend so they have moved back on up accordingly. Again, not losing will certainly help, but they're going to need some help from the better programs they do play, because if those teams flop, Boise St will have accomplished not much at all. And then there's this. Granted, it's not until 2015, but can you imagine if that game happened this year? Subtract South Dakota State or Idaho or Western Kentucky from Nebraska's schedule and add Boise State. Subtract Wyoming or Toledo from Boise State's schedule and add Nebraska. Wow the difference. Suddenly, we have a great game to watch and are looking at the two teams in an entirely different light. The larger point here is that Boise State's anyone, anytime, anyplace, slogan seems to have some disclaimers. We shouldn't be surprised; we know that money does most of the talking. Just saying, if the two schools roll out schedules in 2015 that at all look like this season's, then shame on both schools for not reaching a compromise. I suspect that this is more common than we may know, so no, I don't really buy into the argument that Boise State can't get decent teams to play them.

The other comment of note came from anonymous:  "Your betting system is a joke. Good job otherwise, though"

I'm not sure about the "good job" part, but one thing remains clear, yes anonymous, my betting system is very much a joke. I believe that there really are those that can keep up with Vegas' trends and are very adept at taking advantage of their misgivings. My mama's boy mid-western ass, however, is not one of those people. I've always had an inclination that gambling, besides the basic low stakes pools and brackets and fantasy leagues, is just not my thing. I think I'll trust my intuition here and stay away from it. Consider the gambling system discontinued, it's merely a waste of my time otherwise.

Thoughts? Comments? I really do appreciate those that I do get, so if something occurs to you, by all means....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

College Football Week 4

Let me tell you about the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. They are, by my account, the worst team in NCAA-FBS college football. And it's not even close. Last season they actually managed to finish strong, losing their last 3 games by less than a touchdown, but that's about the best thing one might say about this program to date. Not only did they lose every game, but it was following a 2008 season in which they won 2 games against non-FBS schools and only managed to stay within a touchdown against one opponent in the division of which they, at least attempt to, compete. Is this excusable? Well sure it is, the truth is that Western Kentucky only qualified for top division status a couple years back and should probably not be overly criticized for demanding some time to adjust and get better. They have recently made a coaching change and play in a weak conference, by FBS standards, one that they should be able to maintain at least a hint of competitiveness within the not too distant future. But they are not there yet.

So what's the problem then? Nebraska, actually. It's not that the Huskers won't get their opportunity to validate their hype, they do after all play in a conference that affords them that chance, well at least for now they do. But when I saw that their opponent is FCS South Dakota State this coming Saturday , I thought oh come on man. When I say that Nebraska carries with it a lot of hype, it's an understatement. For the last few seasons, fans of Big 12 North teams have kind of justified their inadequacies with the thought that should they just win the North, then one never knows what could happen in one game for the conference championship. And last year, Nebraska nearly pulled off just that. But they didn't. And they lost 3 other games as well, including one ugly one at home against Iowa St that gave us this wonderful scene. What's more is that their best player from a year ago, not to mention maybe the best player in college football, moved on and with him a handful of other starting players, including the quarterback. Yet here we stand, 3 weeks into the season, and the Husker hype is boiling over.

And what do they have to show for it? Blow out city, no question, but against Western Kentucky, Idaho and Washington. The Washington game is their only real test so far, as it was a road game against a BCS conference team. Washington though has been awful in recent past, even losing every single game 2 years ago (Incidentally, Idaho 2 seasons ago. Hmmm, noticing a trend here? In 2008, Western Kentucky, Idaho and Washington combined to beat 1 FBS foe...New Mexico State). Last season, Washington's production spiked a little with a new coach and a couple of huge conference upsets, but they still topped out with a 5-7 season. Better, but not good enough for their opponents to stake claim to any consideration the likes of which most Nebraska fans are posturing for, particularly since Washington opened the season with a loss to BYU, who has had a bit of a rough go at it since. It's not that blowing out Washington on the road is without merit, but to truly justify recognition of accomplishment heading into conference play, backing it up with a second notable opponent this coming weekend would be appreciated, particularly given the lack of substance in weeks one and two. Instead, we get South Dakota State in Lincoln. Oh come on man.

This all leads us to my rankings this week. As promised, everything has been completely reshuffled to be more representative of this year's achievements, as opposed to last year's as my previous polls to date had demonstrated. Like my little point spread forecasting attempts, I will provide explanation as to the specifics of my methods as we go along, but I'd really like to cover this in parts, so let's unveil it first and work on the explanation later. Some things might stand out to you, one being Nebraska's falling a bit, but somehow I don't think that will offer the most vivid reaction. Here they are and then I'll discuss a couple of them:

1 TCU (3-0)
2 Florida (3-0)
3 Alabama (3-0)
4 USC (3-0)
5 Oklahoma (3-0)
6 Auburn (3-0)
7 Stanford (3-0)
8 Arizona (3-0)
9 Missouri (3-0)
10 Texas (3-0)
11 Ohio State (3-0)
12 Wisconsin (3-0)
13 Utah (3-0)
14 West Virginia (3-0)
15 Nevada (3-0)
16 California (2-1)
17 LSU (3-0)
18 Michigan State (3-0)
19 Nebraska (3-0)
20 Temple (3-0)
21 South Carolina (3-0)
22 Kansas State (3-0)
23 Michigan (3-0)
24 North Carolina State (3-0)
25 Oklahoma State (3-0)

So Nebraska has been much discussed and yeah, they have dropped to 19 accordingly. But have you noticed yet who is missing entirely? Yes, Boise State is not ranked at all. As much as I've criticized Nebraska for their schedule, at least they will play in a very challenging conference, second only to the SEC and will have every opportunity to make up for a lack-luster first 4 games of competition. Boise State though is in the WAC, a conference which a team of Boise State's caliber should and usually does annihilate. Nevada looks pretty good so far and might be able to provide some problems, but really nobody else will likely offer any challenge at all. This isn't completely condemning, for now it is their conference, and they cannot do much of anything about that. But what's shocking to me about Boise State, which has so few match-ups of any significance in conference play, I wonder why a team such as this would then go ahead and schedule Wyoming and Toledo to supplement their 2 challenging non-conference games against Virginia Tech and Oregon State. Shouldn't they load up with 4 big games to put on their resume? Or at least 3? I mean, it's pretty clear to everyone what kind of status they have prepared themselves for and therefore should be competing at this level more than 2, maybe 3 times in a season. I don't get it and now that Virginia Tech seems to be less than advertised, and Oregon State has dropped a game already, Boise State might have very little to fall back on as they did last season, when they beat Oregon, who went undefeated the rest of the way. For now, I reward achievment, and never losing will help, but a lot of teams have not lost yet and they have more impressive wins to date.

The team that has achieved thus far is TCU. Now, many teams have also played well, but TCU is the only team in the country that has defeated 2 otherwise undefeated BCS conference teams. So for now they are one. Should they lose, or the teams they are being credited for beating lose, then my ranking system will adjust accordingly. But for now they are the team, and given the level of play we have become accustomed to seeing TCU play at, this is not too far of a stretch anyway.

So last week, I suggested some discomfort with some of the teams my betting system was recommending, and sure enough it suffered cataclysmic defeat, losing to the tune of a whopping -$428.50. Unfortunately, while it did project some of the results, the betting amounts would have completely sunk me.

Winners: Temple, Arizona State, Air Force and Northwestern.
Losers:  Ohio, Kent State, Tulsa, Troy, Wake Forest and Iowa.

A good amount of money would have been saved by the 2 alternative systems. Betting only on spreads of 20 or less would have resulted with -$228.50 and betting an even $100 per game would have given me -$240. That leaves the totals as such:

My system as is: -$238
The flat $100 per game rate: -$140
Betting only on spreads of 20 or less: -$17.50

Hopefully I can rebound from this week. Here are the picks:

Florida International +11 vs Maryland   $20
Rutgers +1 vs North Carolina   $80
Pittsburgh +3.5 vs Miami (FL)   $65
Temple +14 vs Penn State   $20
BYU +4 vs Nevada   $130
Oregon State +17 vs Boise State   $60
California +6.5 vs Arizona   $85
Arkansas State +11 vs Troy   $10
Middle Tennessee -2.5 vs Louisiana-Lafayette   $25
FAU -9.5 vs North Texas   $65

Thanks for reading and have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

College Football Week 3

The Chiefs are in first place. I know it's just one game, but I'm not certain how often I will be able to write that down, so well, Chiefs-first place! Also, after next week, the Chiefs can be no less than tied for first place, which means that the Chiefs will have been in first place for 2 weeks! Wow! What an amazing season they are having! And then there are my blessed Kansas Jayhawks! I was in Lawrence for that one and will simply say this: that was a really, really good time and very much needed by all.

So with the very busy, local (to me) sports weekend behind us, I can move on to examining the rest of the college football world. My thoughts on the weekend? Well, let's see, the Mormons lost. Oklahoma, Cal and Michigan look impressive so far. And Virginia Tech either sucks...or. Of course though, that's just scratching the surface. More importantly, you can already start to see some division as to who, on a national scale, we will be watching all season and who we should just store away in our memory until next year.

Naturally though, all is not lost for any school. It's way too early to tell for sure. And that's why I decided last week to wait until after week 3 to start truly assessing what teams have earned up to that point. It's decent in principle, many teams have been squaring off against opponents of minimal significance and little to no chance of finding victory against their bigger opponents. How can one assess accomplishment without any data available supporting the team or the strength of their schedule? So we just start the season with what we know from the previous year, and kind of, I don't know, just work with it, as the teams from the expired paradigm start to falter. The result is fine for week 1, dissatisfying for week 2, and now as we approach week 3 of college football, my rankings look distorted and ugly, to say the least. Clearly, I'll have to come up with a better approach to this period of status purgatory in the future. But for now, here they are:

1 Alabama (2-0)
2 Texas (2-0)
3 Florida (2-0)
4 Boise State (1-0)
5 Ohio State (2-0)
6 TCU (2-0)
7 Iowa (2-0)
8 Penn State (1-1)
9 Oregon (2-0)
10 Nebraska (2-0)
11 Wisconsin (2-0)
12 LSU (2-0)
13 Utah (2-0)
14 Pittsburgh (1-1)
15 Miami (FL) (1-1)
16 Texas Tech (2-0)
17 USC (2-0)
18 Clemson (2-0)
19 West Virginia (2-0)
20 Fresno State (1-0)
21 Cincinnati (1-1)
22 Air Force (2-0)
23 BYU (1-1)
24 Temple (2-0)
25 Central Michigan (1-1)

So this is almost criminal. No Michigan. No Oklahoma. But Central Michigan at (1-1) gets the nod? Yeah, I know. But there's a point to doing it this way, and it isn't to offer up a skilled analysis of how the teams should be ranked to this point. Granted, should I continue this approach in the future, it would get insanely old and the masses would rebel against me. OK fine, but here's the lesson. Last year I made it clear, at this point, that only undefeated teams would gather recognition. Undefeated is undefeated, I said. And after 2 weeks' sample size, perhaps this isn't a poor guideline...undoubtedly something to consider coming back to in the future. The problem with that, however, is that when teams lose to ranked teams, they are playing a competitive schedule, and that should not be punished. And that's the basic point here. An undefeated team beats a ranked team, and they should by displacement, take over a spot in the top 25. Fine. But what about the teams that only sustain losses against teams already ranked ahead of them. Theoretically, those losses should be expected, and they are, in fact, undefeated still against the field of which they are being compared. But, what I fail to do here is consider the significance of their wins, something I intend to do next week, not only for these specific 1 loss benefactors, but for all teams altogether. Get ready for a massive shuffle; I told you that it was coming.

My gambling week was encouraging and discouraging at the same time. On the surface, my system rolled, but for the first time, my model demonstrated loss in one of the methods being tracked. 

My winners: FAU, California, Ohio State, Troy and Rice
My losers: Georgia, Arkansas State, BYU and Penn State

OK, so once again, I won 5 out of 9,  so my flat rate concept would have netted another $50. At least that's consistent, because the other scenarios have me flip-flopping a bit. This week, my actual system would have raked it in, achieving me $180 for my efforts. The problem is, that the redeeming success was entirely sustained by FAU, a team that was a whopping 28 point underdog against Michigan State. Credit my system for identifying the extremity of that spread, but as I said before, I have little confidence in large spreads and had I opted not to bet on such games, I would have taken a loss of $49 this week. Anyway, tracking it is the whole point, so here's my tab to date:

My system as is:  $190.50
The flat $100 per game rate:  $100
Betting only on spreads of 20 points or less:  $211

That's still not bad, but I hate to see a loss in any of the categories. I was a little surprised to see some of the projections for this coming week, but then again, the easiest way to fail on a procedure is to not acknowledge it, so here are the picks:

Temple +6.5 vs Connecticut   $5
Ohio +32 vs Ohio State   $180
Kent State +21 vs Penn State   $20
Tulsa +6.5 vs Oklahoma State   $65
Arizona State +14 vs Wisconsin   $70
Air Force +17.5 vs Oklahoma   $115
Northwestern -6.5 vs Rice   $25
Troy -4.5 vs UAB   $105
Wake Forest +17 vs Stanford   $220
Iowa -2 vs Arizona   $30

That will do it for now, have a great week!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rivoting Article

This was the subject of much conversation in our household earlier this week. Read it twice if you have to, but the final paragraph is brilliant, both in that it brings it all together nicely, but much, much more than that, for all that it reveals!

Go it...won't take you long.

OK, do you think you have it all figured out? At first glance, we had some idea, but really had to take some time to get the big picture of how this tragedy occurred.

My brother, Phil, made the suggestion that this article should be on the standard ACT, testing reading comprehension. Of course, this is quite funny to think about, given the subject matter, but really it's not THAT bad of an idea. So let's break it down.

We have the following cast of characters:
The Victim
The Suspect
The Mother

Now, have you figured the rest out yet? Seriously, read it once more if you must.

The best I can tell, this appears to be a basic synopsis of the incident and the events leading up to the eruption of tempers and ensuing violence.

51 year old suspect, we'll call him Vern, appears to be living with his 70 year old mother, we'll just call her Vern's mom to keep the characters straight.

To Vern's dismay, his mother starts dating (and likely sleeping with) a 39 year old man, we shall call this dude, Stan, who also becomes the victim in our great tragedy at hand.

I can't imagine this being a pleasant living environment, and sure enough we come to find out that Vern and young Stan, in fact, are constantly at odds with each other.

I also get the impression that this particular microwave incident is not the first time the action has been called into question by Stan. And in Stan's defense, seriously, who puts their leftovers in the microwave to eat later? Pretty disgusting, Vern.

There, however, ends all attempts at defending Stan. Imagine Vern at this point. Here he is, 51 and living peacefully enough with his 70 year old mother. But along comes this damned 39 year old Stan guy, who for motives we cannot explain, starts shacking up with Vern's mother, right there under his same roof. Vern is pissed. But as if that is not enough, Stan has the gall to start telling Vern how to live in his own home! And so they argue constantly.

At this point, I think it becomes clear that Vern has long ago reached the brink of his breaking point. Yet, it's still not premeditated, it takes an actual physical attack to push Vern too far!

Vern is eating, and (for probably not the first time) decides to get up to put his food in the microwave to be eaten later. And this part is just unbelievable to me. Stan, who is all of 39 years old and sleeping with Vern's 70 year old mother, NOT ONLY takes exception to Vern's insistence of leaving his unfinished food grotesquely sitting in the microwave, but actually jumps up and attempts to punch Vern for doing so! WTF!?!?!?

And then Stan gets stabbed several times by Vern. Go figure.

The rest is rather straight forward. Stan falls to the floor, but isn't finished as he makes one final attempt to prevent Vern from leaving. Vern, not having anymore of it, simply pushes Stan away and leaves the premises. And the mother is away in the kitchen all the while.

And now Vern will go to jail; nobody wants to end up becoming a Vern. But for the love of God, definitely don't be a Stan.

Is this how you read it? Either way, thank you for taking the time to read my insanity; enjoy a football filled weekend and I'll be back next week to write all about it!

Also, a shameless plug:

A close friend of mine is training hard for an upcoming charity race. The training is the easy part; the hard part is gathering sponsors to reach her goal. It's an excellent cause that many of us have either already encountered in our lives, or will someday. All donations go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. To help out my friend Carole in this event, just click here. She doesn't know I'm doing this, by the way, I'm just trying to do my part to help out!

Thanks again and I will talk to you...or at you I suppose, next week!

College Football Week 2

Who do you think put up these numbers?

2006    2-10
2007    5-7
2008    8-6
2009    5-7

I have to admit, I mistook 2008 to be even worse, but 6 losses is still nothing to tell all the pretty girls about.  Those numbers, of course, belong to Turner Gill in his time at Buffalo, also his only tenure as a head coach. Not that I would have predicted Kansas to lose 6-3 to lowly FCS North Dakota State, but now that they have, I have to ask, why did anyone ever think this was going to work? Keep in mind, Buffalo plays in the MAC and Kansas the Big 12 Conference. That's quite a leap for a winning coach and this guy is not one of those. But hey, I hear he's a super nice man! The search for a new Athletic Director begins immediately. Hopefully the new guy will prefer to have, well...a new guy.

As for the rest of the weekend, there were some pretty fun games, the best of which came last, as Boise State hung in long enough to take another impressive early victory, this time on Monday night against Virginia Tech in Landover, Maryland. Boise State always seems to touch on people's emotions in one way or another. Their conference is simply awful, although I suppose after this summer, the remedy for this problem is just around the corner. That said, people I talk to generally either quite enjoy Boise State and the underdog aspect of their improbable rise to college football domination or just the opposite and really, really hate them for that very reason, forever wishing that they would just stop making us have to evaluate whether a great team that waltzes through a pathetic conference should be given the opportunity to win the same National Championship of teams that play vigorous conference schedules, yet very well might not be as good a team. It's a good question, and the only way to prevent this dilemma is a tournament format, of which I sometimes wonder if we have made any progress toward achieving at all. I tend to like Boise State, as well as the Mountain West teams that they will soon join. They almost always fair well against the big boys and I like that every time they do it's a chilling reminder to those in charge that their system has been broken for a very long time.

OK, let's get to my rankings for this week; it is eerily similar to last week's and I will explain myself after. The only team knocked out of it is Ole Miss, who lost to FCS Jacksonville State. That gets Ole Miss closer to Lawrence than it does the Top 25.

1 Alabama  (1-0)
2 Texas  (1-0)
3 Florida  (1-0)
4 Boise State  (1-0)
5 Ohio State  (1-0)
6 TCU  (1-0)
7 Iowa  (1-0)
8 Penn State  (1-0)
9 Virginia Tech  (0-1)
10 Oregon  (1-0)
11 BYU  (1-0)
12 Georgia Tech  (1-0)
13 Nebraska  (1-0)
14 Wisconsin  (1-0)
15 LSU  (1-0)
16 Utah  (1-0)
17 Pittsburgh  (0-1)
18 Miami (FL)  (1-0)
19 Texas Tech  (1-0)
20 USC  (1-0)
21 Central Michigan  (1-0)
22 Clemson  (1-0)
23 West Virginia  (1-0)
24 Fresno State  (1-0)
25 Cincinnati  (0-1)

Notice first, that three teams, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati all lost games this week and yet all remain ranked in some capacity. This is completely different then the process that I used last year. And the thing is, I've decided that it really doesn't matter. Want all undefeated teams here? Fine. Bump the 3 that lost, and add in...say...Kansas State, Michigan and Missouri at 23-25. Think that losing to other ranked teams is nothing to be ashamed of? I agree and this is represented by my rankings above. However, what has really been established as of yet? Not much. Actually, most teams are yet to play anybody of any significance, and some haven't even played yet at all. So I've decided that about the right amount of time to have expected a team to already have demonstrated their merit, at least to some extent, is about 3 weeks. Next week, I'll do something similar to this, but then after week 3...the whole thing gets reshuffled. Stay tuned.

The gambling thing was far more interesting.
Utah was a push
My winners: FAU, Rice, Oregon State, LSU and Boise State
My Losers: Middle Tennessee, Western Michigan, Missouri and Louisiana-Lafayette

In the end, somewhere in the depths of my colorful imagination, I figuratively walked into a Las Vegas Casino and slapped down $985, unevenly distributed between 10 games. And had I gone to collect, I would have ended up winning $5.50 after the juice. That's a lot of work to win $5.50, but since I'm not actually gambling anything at all, and instead trying to come up with the best way to go about it, let's have a few different running balances, in hopes that the best approach to my system reveals itself.

The first option to track seems obvious to me. I bet $985 on 10 games, so why not bet $1000 and set each game at a flat rate of $100 per game. Now, my system is set up to spend more on the games that my numbers deviate, to a higher degree, from Vegas, so I would prefer not to select this option if making actual bets, but again, I am not actually betting anything, so let's track it as well. I won 5 games, lost 4, subtract the standard 10% juice from the winners and I would have wound up winning $50 had I opted for the flat rate last week.

The final option to track is a suspicion that I already had going in, and at least to this point, it would have served me well to obey my intuition a little more closely. Perhaps, I felt, that the larger the spread of the game, the less I can come anywhere near trying to project the margins of victory. This may very well be a theory that the "professional" gamblers abide by for the most part as well, but I have no evidence of that, it's just a hunch. Regardless, betting according to this hunch is difficult, but it's clear that to do so I will have to set a point spread at which I suspend betting on and beyond that total. I think 3 touchdowns is generally a good number to establish total domination in a given game, so I will therefore set the mark at 21 points and above. Last week, there were 3 games that fit this criteria: Michigan State/Western Michigan, Texas/Rice and Georgia/Louisiana-Lafayette. I picked all 3 underdogs to hold up under the spread, but only Rice obliged. Had I eliminated these 3 games, as I suspected I should have, I would have had quite a nice day of gambling and ended up +$251 after the juice.

Speaking of the Michigan State/Western Michigan game, someone I am close to actually decided to put my system into play, betting a small sum of money on 2 of my teams, but real bets nonetheless. What's interesting about this is that while I had the spread set at Western Michigan +23, this person actually got the bet in at +24, which was the exact result of the game, ending for them in a push in what was a loss for me. Of course, it's pure speculation, but perhaps I would have been able to take advantage of the very same push, had I placed actual money on the game as well. And that would have been huge. My measly $5.50 would have turned into $205.50 if given this extra point. But I didn't, so we won't count it as such. My tab to start off:

My system as is: +$5.50
The flat $100 per game rate: +$50
Betting only on spreads of 20 points or less: +$251

I will reveal more of what is behind my game and rate selection in the future. For now, have a great week and here are this coming weekend's selections:

FAU +28 vs Michigan State   $260
Georgia +3 vs South Carolina   $120
California -8.5 vs Colorado   $15
Arkansas State +2 vs Louisiana-Lafayette   $20
Ohio State -9 vs Miami (FL)   $20
BYU pickem vs Air Force   $70
Troy +13 vs Oklahoma State   $130
Rice +2.5 vs North Texas   $125
Penn State +12 vs Alabama   $100

Thursday, September 2, 2010

College Football

I can't believe this blog is still here! Frankly, it was an utter failure before and with good reason I'm sure. But's kind of like cleaning out your closet and sorting through your old...well...junk. Somehow it's even worse though. Writing with the intent of sharing brings with it a bit of trepidation, and reading what you wrote some time actually embarrassing frankly. Oh well, I was looking for a better way to do this college football thing than the emails I sent out last year, so this will work. I did change the title at least...and that's exactly what reading any blog feels like sometimes, a complete waste of time that you will never get back, and I have no delusions of mine being any exception. Just keep this in mind though, for an even more spectacular waste of time: try writing one.

OK, back to the college football thing; the season does, after all, start tonight! Last year, some of you expressed disappointment in my tailing off at the end. The truth is that it just became far, far too time consuming to sort through every team's schedule once a good number of games had been played. I could no longer keep up and once I got behind, I was cooked. I do apologize though, if any of you were really waiting anxiously for it. This time I think I have a solution. My spreadsheets this year are ready to go and have been updated so that they should make it far less time consuming this time around. I also have some revisions to last year's ranking system, but we'll sort through that mess as it arises.

Additionally, I've added a new concept to introduce you to this year...beating Vegas. Now, I should make it perfectly clear that I am not much of a gambler. I seldom put my money where my mouth is and with good reason...I generally lose. But for some reason, I've always been fascinated with the Vegas odds. I always hear these prognosticator guys on the radio making boisterous claims of their success rates, and here's the thing: for the most part, I actually believe them. I think that there really are specific nuances to the tactics they use to set these lines and if someone, anyone were to catch on to these trends, they could in theory do very well betting on games. I'm sure I'm nowhere near even comprehending what these involve, but it's fun to try anyway, and there's no harm in it, so long as I or anyone else never puts any actual money on it! But let's start with the rankings. Here's what I wrote in my first email to some of you last year:

"So I have some distinct and specific ideas on how the rankings should be done, particularly if so much is to be decided in the end based on human evaluation, without any regard for human error. There have to be rules. I will therefore come up with new rankings each week based on my own messed up logic, providing my reasons all along. Here is my preseason list with one rationale behind it more than anything else: the same rankings to end the previous season begin the next. It is after all, the only thing that has been settled on the field. Who left where, and who came back, and who recruited purely speculation. The only tangible thing we have is what was seen on the field, and for that, all we can truly resort to is last season. Of course, last season's rankings are also human error susceptible, but should a more objective system be implemented, the problem would right it's self after a season or two, and we don't have the benefit of seeing that without starting from somewhere.Therefore the top 25 from last year's end, and my beginning to this one:"

I'm going to stick with this line of thinking. Now, obviously, had I finished what I started last season, then I would be able to smoothly transition my rankings right over to this season's start. But I didn't, so let's pull up last season's final AP poll and thus present it as my preseason rankings for this season:

1 Alabama
2 Texas
3 Florida
4 Boise State
5 Ohio State
7 Iowa
8 Cincinnati
9 Penn State
10 Virginia Tech
11 Oregon
12 BYU
13 Georgia Tech
14 Nebraska
15 Pittsburgh
16 Wisconsin
17 LSU
18 Utah
19 Miami (FL)
20 Mississippi
21 Texas Tech
22 USC
23 Central Michigan
24 Clemson
25 West Virginia

And finally, the gambling thing. I will get more into how I come up with this stuff in the future, but for now, if I were betting on games this week, these are the teams I would bet on, and based on what my formula reveals to me, how much I would bet on each game:

Utah -3 vs Pittsburgh   $50
Middle Tennessee +2.5 vs Minnesota  $85
FAU +14.5 vs UAB  $230
Western Michigan +23 vs Michigan State $200
Missouri -11.5 vs Illinois  $15
Rice +30.5 vs Texas  $105
Oregon State +13.5 vs TCU  $85
LSU -4 vs North Carolina  $50
Louisiana-Lafayette +28 vs Georgia  $140
Boise State -2.5 vs Virginia Tech  $25

We'll see how I do; enjoy the return of football!