Why Oklahoma quit

Trailing Missouri 36-27 with 2:24 remaining on Saturday, Oklahoma had the ball and at least some hope of springing a miracle comeback. This is college football after all, and while the Sooners chances were slim, stranger things have happened.

Bob Stoops saw it differently. Facing 4th and 10 from deep in his own territory he punted, effectively conceding the game to Missouri. The Sooners flat gave up. He did it for one reason: he feared that if OU was stopped, Mizzou would punch in another score and extend the margin of defeat.

A 16-point loss would look worse to poll voters that make up two-thirds of the BCS formula. So rather than try to win, he went with a new concept: running down the score.

“It’s a long year. Who knows how poll people look at scores?” Stoops explained to the Daily Oklahoman.

This isn’t a criticism of Stoops. He made the smart decision that comes from having such a dumb system of determining a champion.

Stoops weighed the long-odds of a comeback against the long-term damage of a double digit defeat and decided he could live with a nine-point road loss.

Oklahoma dropped to 9th in the BCS standings but trail just Alabama (No. 6) among one-loss teams. The Tide’s defeat, though, was by 14 to South Carolina. If it comes to politicking between the two in early December, you can bet margin of defeat will be mentioned by folks in Oklahoma.

Our book is about debunking the BCS’s well-worn talking points by showing how real-world application is generally the exact opposite; just about everything the BCS says is unsupported spin.

This is the latest.

The BCS claims “Every Game Matters” and it protects the “sanctity of the regular season.” Then Oklahoma gives up on winning a game because it’s trying to game the system.

A small, educated selection committee would be equipped to see the circumstances that go into margin of victory or defeat. The coaches who admit they don’t watch anything but game film on their next opponent and the Harris Poll voters – a sizeable portion of whom think Florida is having a good season – have proven they don’t pay attention to much of anything.

Stoops decision also shows the folly of the BCS stripping its computer formulas of margin of victory in the name of sportsmanship. The human voters already consider margin of victory, so it doesn’t add any bit of sportsmanship. As unfortunate as a team running up the score is, isn’t it worse that the BCS is causing coaches to alter late game strategy and give up on their players?

The BCS doesn’t promote sportsmanship at all. All it does is pervert math to the point the computer guys admit they are provided a “less accurate” ranking than they could. It’s poorly thought-out public relations.

“It’s not the best way to do it,” said Kenneth Massey, one of the computer guys.

How different would the BCS ranking be with margin of victory included? Jeff Sagarin offers two sets of rankings, the one without margin of victory he calls “politically correct.”

Missouri would go from No. 1 to No. 5. Oregon would jump from No. 6 to No. 1. Michigan State would go from No. 2 to No. 25. TCU and Boise State would rank 3 and 4 respectively rather than 7 and 11.

On and on it goes. I don’t know whether the math on these formulas is any good. I do know actual mathematicians we interviewed for the book said it wasn’t.

And I know that every game doesn’t count when Bob Stoops is quitting on a comeback because he’s worried about bizarro world style points.

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12 Responses to Why Oklahoma quit

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Why Oklahoma quit | Death To the BCS -- Topsy.com

  2. Pingback: Alas, Bob Stoops is a “quitter” under any circumstance | : : Lonely Tailgater : :

  3. Kyle says:

    You can’t have a system that both takes into account margin of victory but doesn’t give teams this “cop out”. The best hope is to make the incentive to win high enough that any coach with (enough) faith in their team will go for it in the end.

    Kudos to Stoops for seeing the inadequacies in the system. If he doesn’t know exactly how the computer rankers work, why should he trust that he can risk losing by a bigger margin to go for the win?

  4. L.G. says:

    Had Stoops scored the earlier 2 point conversion cutting Mizzou’s lead to 7 points Stoops then would have obviously gone for the win, or OT.

    Since Stoops did not cut the lead to 7 points, it was mute, unless O.U. could score quickly, then perform an onside kick and recover the ball, then with the aid of a referee helping O.U. recover by bending the rules.

    Then after all those triple dare strokes of luck happened for O.U., they would then just need to score again by kicking the winning field goal with a kicker that could not hit the side of an Oklahoma barn from 20 yards.

    All of this in 2 minutes and no cooperation from Mizzou.

    Thats quadruple dare.

    I’m sure Stoops thought ” Do I feel lucky today ?”
    And he answered to himself ” Not that lucky, not today”.

    I’m sure Stoops told his guys ” I, , we, shall return”. (Big 12 Championship).

  5. Pingback: Five-Step Drop: Bob Stoops Not Loving His Kicking Options | Sports Center

  6. Pingback: Why Oklahoma quit « CB's Blog

  7. James says:

    I think you are contradicting yourself either mov should be taken into account or just wins matter but you criticise the polls because they take mov into account but you criticise the computers because they don’t . We have a two team playoff if we have 4 8 or 16 the problem will remain of how to select them. A selection committe is not the answer ideally there would be a single computer formula that was publically available and took mov into account.

  8. Anonymous Coward says:

    Writing a script that parses a box score and figures out whether a team is scoring cheap touchdowns at the end of a game isn’t exactly rocket science. It’s profoundly embarrassing and patronizing that the BCS doesn’t trust the quants to be able to handle margin of victory.

  9. Chad says:

    I just wanted to share my objection to using MOV altogether. I disagree with the notion that ignoring MOV produces less accurate results. This may be true for those “computers” that are designed to predict future results, but the standings of a competition are not meant to be predictive but merely reflect the value of what teams have accomplished to date. One of the biggest problems with the BCS system is that it places an undefined demand on nonAQs to schedule tougher opponents but forces these schools to ignore their financial interests in order to chase such schedules. To top it off, strong AQs have no competitive incentive to accomodate them. Basically, nonAQs are expected to chase a glorified beauty pagent title which is worth the same amount of money as any BCS bowl by scheduling strong AQs that do not need to play them. The system does not need to award MOV to benefit nonAQs. It simply has to create a competitive incentive for strong AQs to play strong nonAQs while providing the latter with some leverage in the whole process. All of the competitive and financial leverage in the BCS belongs to AQs. A transparent objective rules system where the top teams have the same incentive to play each other is a better idea than using any subjective method of ranking teams or any objective method that rewards running up the score.

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