Oct 4, 2012
Qunicy Mangum # 2 steps in to end zone... Touch Down! Green Hope 17 @ Fuquay 21 Photo By CHRIS BAIRD
In an attempt to inform and educate the wide range of people who are consuming my new power rankings about how those rankings are compiled, I will occasionally provide some commentary in the form of a column called “Inside the Numbers” here on HighSchoolOT.com.
Inside the Numbers will give you a case study or two on how a team fell or jumped in a given week, or why some things may seem out of whack.
Let’s start in 3A, The Charlotte Catholic ranking is a bit confusing, I admit. When I started coming up with the formula, I had to find a line somewhere of how many teams to rank teams, one of the things that I decided not to include was games against non-NCHSAA opponents. Catholic's only loss on the year came against Charlotte Country Day of the NCISAA, therefore that game did not count towards Catholic's rankings. I understand how given the fact they lost that game their number may seem a bit inflated.
I myself don't feel that they are the number one team at 3A, but they are a very good team, and I think the rankings will even themselves out as the year goes along. That is my opinion. The ranking formula is somewhat limited in that it can only take into account what I program it to, and doesn't "see" teams on the field to form opinions. This is a good and bad thing sometimes.
Margin of victory is also a factor in the rankings, and Catholic has won by larger margins in their games against teams from a higher classification than Northern Guilford has.
By way of analysis, I believe Northern will continue to win big from here on out, which will allow them to hit the crucial margin of victory multiplier to its full power (which they have only failed to do in two weeks on the year) but that is enough to explain the gap in the computers for now.
So why no NCISAA teams included in the rankings? Simply put, I had to draw the line somewhere, and for the purposes of this ranking system, I drew the line at including only NCHSAA opponents. I did that because I believe there to be a general average of competitive balance between schools in that association. I don't feel that you can make those same generalizations when you jump into the NCISAA or across state lines.
If I had included NCISAA teams in the rankings, I'm fairly certain Northern Guilford would be number one unequivocally. But since I didn't feel there was a consistent and fair way to rank NCISAA teams, and thereby compare them fairly to each NCHSAA school, I felt it better to leave that hole in the system, than try to draw some questionable comparisons.
Now let’s look at 4A, two quick examples to point to. Fuquay-Varina defeated Green Hope 21-17 (a team ranked 15 spots ahead of them in the rankings), and the Bengals dropped four spots in the rankings. Scratch your head? The thing to keep in mind is that these ratings are an average, meaning that week one plays as much a role in your ranking as week 7 (provided you played a game against an NCHSAA team).
The margin of victory multiplier is a critical part of this equation, winning by more than a touchdown tremendously boosts a team’s ranking in that week. Winning by 2 or 3 touchdowns can help you skyrocket. Strength of schedule is a component, but the multiplier for margin of victory that I put in the formula actually may play a bigger role.
I designed the multiplier to reward teams for dominating an opponent. There is a line of dominance though, for instance, in the eyes of the formula there is no difference between winning by 22 points and winning by 60 points. I don’t want to reward teams for running up the score, but for demonstrating that they were the better team through out the contest, I felt 21 points to be a safe margin to accomplish both of those things.
The margin part of the equation also works to reward losing teams that keep games close. Essentially, you can get partial credit (to varying degrees) for a game you keep within 21 points. Strength of schedule can help with that, but really, the margin is a key factor that often gets overlooked when people stare at these results and wonder how they can be the way they are.
In Fuquay’s case, there were other teams grouped around them in last week’s rankings that put up convincing wins, allowing them to jump over Fuquay in the rankings this week despite Fuquay’s win, that’s why Fuquay fell slightly positionally in the rankings, their power ranking number actually remained nearly unchanged.
Strength of schedule can also fluctuate based on how opponents you’ve played in the past perform. This can cause your rating to fluctuate slightly as well.
Needless to say, it’s a complex formula, but there is simple logic behind it.
In the end the great thing about High School football is it will be settled on the field, and the rankings are merely a way to recognize the teams that are performing consistently well across the state and generate some conversation about the top teams/areas and how they compare to each other.