Every year, undergraduate super fans follow every pass, every defensive stop, and every concussion of the season attempting to will their team to a national championship. Alas, it is not meant to be for most. But fear not, for the powers that be have provided an ample, perennial scape goat for each and every fan of all of the also-rans: The BCS.
Now, I have no problem with anyone blaming the BCS. I’d even argue that part of the excitement of college football is arguing about the stupidity of the BCS system (But it’s still absurd), and, apparently, getting fans to argue is a fantastic way to make money (Lots of money, in fact, on the backs of essentially unpaid labor).
But what exactly is the BCS? It’s some combination of humans and computers getting together in a black box and spitting out some sort of ranking system that is used to decide which schools go the the BCS bowls and which schools spent way too much money to end up in the Papa John’s Pizza Bowl. Of course, all of this is going away for the 2014-15 season, so this is our last year of BCS “joy”. That also means it’s my last chance to really take a look at how the BCS sausage is made.
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Check out this sweet graph from Todd W. Schneider. Cheers.
For the last 7 years I’ve been going to Vermont with my father to golf. For the last 5 we’ve had a contest where we take the lowest score on each hole from our 7 rounds to complete our “master card”. Below is a visualization of the contest last year. I made up a ton of ground in the last round, but to no avail.
Here is the third to last paragraph of the article How the Portugal Draw Boosts the U.S.’s World Cup Advancement Odds from FiveThirtyEight (emphasis added):
So, why I do I say that our 76 percent figure might slightly underestimate the Americans’ chances? One reason is technical rather than soccer-related: Our simulation was programmed to resolve ties beyond goals scored and goal differential randomly, rather than looking at head-to-head results, because the head-to-head tiebreaker so rarely comes into play. But if a Ghanaian win in Brasilia and an American loss in Recife come by exactly the same scoreline — e.g. Ghana 3, Portugal 2, and Germany 3, U.S. 2 — that would trigger the head-to-head tiebreaker. The probability of such an outcome is low, but it means the simulator has slightly underestimated the U.S.’s advancement prospects, perhaps by 1 or 2 percent.
I understand that this rarely occurs, but why not add the one or two lines of code needed to add this? If they really believe that their probabilities are off and could be easily fixed, why not do it?
First of all, what you’re about to read has almost nothing to do with statistics, but it really made my day. Go ahead and check out these next two pictures from facebook. Make sure to pay attention to the captions!
Now look at that “jerk who thinks he’s writing the next Pulitzer”. What a jerk right? It’s me!
So someone took a picture in Starbucks that I happened to be in the background of and posted it to facebook. Someone who was friends with the person who took the picture and recognized me and showed me the pictures. I got a little bit of a kick out of this. But then the comments. Pure gold:
Several things here:
1) It took me 6 months to grow this “beard”.
2) He’s dead on with the year of the shorts, but even if my shorts were “ill-fitting”, how could that be concluded from these pictures.
3.) I literally didn’t say a word to the person in the picture.
4.) I was writing R code. (Which I guess is pretentious? I’m not really good with words, which I guess is gonna make it hard to “win the next Pulitzer”.)
5.) If you know western Mass, it probably wouldn’t surprise you that this was in Longmeadow.