We know a lot of you want to know how the computer rankings we publish here on HighSchoolOT.com are developed.
While we are not going to reveal the formula, we will explain how the rankings came to fruition.
The rankings are not subjective, unlike a typical media poll, such as the AP Poll or the OT Top 12 Polls. These rankings are derived from a mathematical formula that is the same for each team.
First off, these rankings start from scratch. No team is given a value based on how it finished last season. Everyone starts at zero.
Why is this?
Every season is a new season. Teams change, coaches change, players transfer, and the only way to objectively judge teams is based on what they've done on the field and what challenges they have faced.
The HighSchoolOT.com Power Rankings awards points based on the week-to-week challenges it faces from its opponents. The first step in determining the challenge is identifying how much a given game is worth by comparing the two classifications.
Games between teams of the same classification are given a worth of 10 points. If a team plays an opponent who is in a classification higher than its classification, the game is worth more points. For example, if a 2-A team plays a 3-A team, the game will be worth more to the 2-A team.
If a team plays an opponent who is in a classification lower than its classification, the game is worth less points. So if a 4-A team plays a 3-A team, the game will not be worth 10 points.
The system also awards a bonus for teams who are on the road.
Once this is determined, games are then rated based on the margin of victory or defeat and a multiplier is put into place on the total game value. Teams that win by 21 or more points get the full multiplier, and the multiplier works its way down in value in a staggered manner until you get to a team that lost by 21 or more.
The next step is to look at strength of schedule for each team.
Since the rankings do not compare teams in one classification to teams in another classification, the strength of schedule takes into account the class of each team played. For example, 4-A teams are given a weight of 0.3, while 1-A teams are given a weight of 0.15.
Games against non-N.C. High School Athletic Association opponents do not count in these rankings. Such games don't necessarily hurt a team, but a team with multiple non-NCHSAA opponents may see more fluctuation in their ranking than teams who play exclusively teams from the NCHSAA.
Why are these teams omitted? It's nearly impossible to accurately and fairly assign these teams a value.
Points can be earned in losses too, provided the game is closer than 21 points. So if a team loses to a highly-rated team by a less than 21 points, it will help the strength of schedule and add points to the teams ranking. This is based on the principle that not all losses are bad losses.
At the end of the season, 2 points will be added to out-right conference champions, 1 point to each co-conference champion, and 1.5 points to the top team in split-classification conferences.
If you have questions about the HighSchoolOT.com Power Rankings, follow James Alverson on Twitter @JamesAlverson