Could BCS Data Be Wrong Yet Go Unchecked? Yes

With the accuracy of BCS rankings data so critical to so many millions of people, it goes without saying that the complex computations should be part of an open, accountable and verifiable system that can be checked by virtually anyone.

BCS rankings error

(How would we know the rankings are wrong? Left to BCS, we wouldn’t)

So, if there was ever a mistake made, a mistake that could actually cost an entire conference its BCS automatic qualifier status, it would be acknowledged and corrected instantly.

If only that system existed.

BCS and RPI guru Jerry Palm reports today that the latest BCS rankings were, in fact, inaccurate. And no one at the BCS - or ESPN- or the NCAA knew about it. Turns out that no one ever checks to see if the BCS data is wrong, except for informal inspections by Palm himself.

Mistakes happen. But this mistake, and how it has been subsequently handled by the offending parties, is unforgiveable.


Wes Colley’s final (computer) rankings, as submitted to the BCS, were incorrect. The Appalachian State-Western Illinois FCS playoff game was missing from his data set. I will spare you some of the gory, mathematical details, but the net result of that omission in Colley’s rankings is that LSU, which he ranked ninth, and his No. 10, Boise State, should be switched.

It may be important .. because the Mountain West, Boise State’s new home, is making an effort to become an AQ conference. This week’s data — the final regular season standings — is part of the basis for making that determination. Every little bit helps, or at least it could.

But the bigger point is that nobody checks the BCS computer data. We should all be grateful to Colley for having a system that is open, accountable and verifiable. The BCS owes us an entire system that is open, accountable and verifiable.

… It’s the assumption that no mistakes are ever made, and therefore, nothing ever gets checked.

At this point, the only credibility the BCS has remaining is the actual mathematical integrity of its data. And now even that’s been compromised.

Well, at least the folks at the BCS and ESPN have fixed the error so everyone knows where they stand.

BCS error in rankings still not fixed

(Hours after Palm noted mistake, BCS and ESPN had not corrected error)

Good lord.

UPDATE: Colley has released a statement about his error.

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