Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Site News: One Month 'Til Sloan...

A little while ago, I wrote about an Evolution of Sport proposal that I submitted to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Today I found out that the proposal was not selected for this year.

But that's the extent of the bad news. I will still be at the conference in Boston this March, and will be tweeting all weekend (and maybe writing a recap once it ends). I also get a couple free blog posts out of it. I'll be posting the first half of my talk Friday, and the conclusion on Monday. For now, here's the abstract, which was at least competent enough to get me into the second round of the competition:

The championship of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision is determined by the formula established by the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Under this system, schools affiliated with smaller conferences (e.g., Boise State and Tulane) are hindered by their strength of schedules. The non-conference games played by these schools are typically determined years in advance, but the conference games are announced a few months before each season. The scheduling of these conference games is dominated by fixed divisions based on geography; as a result, schools from smaller conferences with BCS aspirations are often saddled with suboptimal conference schedules, forgoing games against superior in-conference opponents in order to play weaker schools in the same arbitrary division. To prevent this, we propose non-automatic qualifying conferences use a relegation-style system to assign teams to each division. In defense of this, we show that year-to-year records in major college football programs are strongly correlated, such that last year’s top teams are more likely to be this year’s top team. We further demonstrate that such a system would have significantly improved the conference strength of schedules for several previous BCS contenders. This proposed system will therefore give schools from non-AQ conferences the greatest chance to make a major bowl game, resulting in greater revenues and exposure for the conference as a whole and each of its member institutions. We conclude by showing that similar schemes could be used to improve the reputation of teams in other sports, including the so-called “mid-major” conferences in NCAA Division I basketball.

Of course, I welcome any and all feedback on this topic.

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