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October 01, 2008


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Don't a disproportionate number of crappy teams play BCS schools in their non-con...especially in the SEC? So if Miss. St. is 0-8 against the Big East doesn't that pretty much negate this as an accurate bearing of conference supremacy?

Interesting study. However, it seems like the data would be skewed since the bowl match-ups don't pit equally ranked teams within the conferences.

For example, the Papa Johns bowl is the only official SEC v. Big East tie-in and it pits the 4/5 ranked Big East team against the lowest ranked bowl-elgible SEC team.

Therefore it seems difficult to draw a conclusion about the supremecy of certain conferences when you're matching the 4th rank team in a certain conference against the 9th ranked team in another.



great analysis. More the charts the better. but can you guys break it down one more level to the matchups, i think that would be more useful to see who played who and what rank they where.



While I certainly agree with the above statement, there is one small flaw with the data above: it is missing one BCS team. How did each conference do against Notre Dame? I think this may be significant, because both the Pac-10 and Big Ten play several OOC games per season against the Irish.

I agree w/ the previous commenter, that since a large chunk of inter-conference games are bowls and bowls don't always pit equally ranked teams it's hard to use that as an objective measure. Certainly interesting to see though, probably does help the Pac-10 as it tries to defend its reputation as a weak conference.

Another way to look at over-all conference strength is to measure competitive balance (i.e. changes in the conf. standings from year to year, probability that the last team in the conference can beat the first, etc.). I did a research paper on this, applying a couple different accepted competitive balance measures to the six BCS conferences for the past 10 years (when the BCS was first used to name a champion). I also looked at the distribution of BCS championships across the conferences.

Drum roll please...... the SEC was first in both.

Ed Gunther

Hey Joe, I'd be interested in seeing that paper. It sounds similar to the study I published back in July


but I came up with very different results. Do you have a site?


Hi Ed, I read your study. Interesting results- we took different approaches. I did not examine any specific game results, only the final standings each year and the distribution of championships. So I examined more so the shake-ups in the standings from year to year as opposed to the number of times a favored team was upset. My thought process is, if USC wins the Pac-10 a majority of the time and there's not significant change in the final standings from year to year, then it isn't as relevant to C.B. if Stanford or Oregon State upset them during the season. C.B. in sport can be tough to draw conclusions about- technically 'perfect' C.B. would be if each team ended up at .500 and that's not necessarily the best thing for sports.

I used the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI). It's been adapted by sports economists as a way to measure C.B. It's originally a measure of market concentration to evaluate monopoly/antitrust issues, usually related to business mergers. I.e. USC has a huge market share in the Pac-10.

I don't have my paper anywhere on-line, but I'd be happy to e-mail excerpts if you'd like.

I think some combination of our two approaches is probably best. One of the acknowledged limitations in my research was not looking at in-season results. Kudos to you!

Ed Gunther

Hey Lane, (sorry I got the name wrong initially), I would like to see any excerpts you'd be willing to send. I'm happy any time I can get my hands on a good study. gunthered6@yahoo.com. Thanks -


It's about time that the PAC-10 gets some respect. Yes we are in a down year, but from one sport to the next, the Conference of Champions is always at or near the top. Too bad all the fans in the south are blind to that fact!


Regarding the notion that the data is flawed because the PapaJohn's.com Bowl matches the lowest rated SEC team against the 4/5 Big East team - the only problem with that argument is that the PapaJohns.com Bowl has not yet actually matched an SEC team against a Big East team. Until this year the bowl was aligned with Conference USA.


If you feel like the data discriminates against your favorite conference because most of their losses occurred when one of your lower rated teams played against a higher rated team from another conference then the obvious solution is that the best teams in your conference should be scheduling more games against BCS opponents.




Dude! Please...The SEC is The Best in the Country. Why do you think you run up all those points. The Pac10 would never even come close to being a competitor in the SEC. USC keeps hiding from the SEC by playing lame Big 10 teams in the Rose bowl. Y'all are too close to hollywood...you are believing your own fiction. SEC is THE BEST fottball confernece in the world for college.

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