The BCS Formula
Have Questions? We Have the BCS Know How.
Understanding the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) formula is easier than it seems. Let’s break down the three elements that make up this controversial ranking system:
The BCS consists of two human elements, or polls, from which two-thirds of the BCS formula is taken. The two polls are the Harris Interactive College Football Poll and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
The human element is used is as follows: First, take the Harris Interactive, which includes 105 voters. All 105 voters vote on teams 1-25 and points are awarded on a reverse basis, 25 for a first-place vote, 24 for a second-place vote, 23 for a third-place vote, and so on until one point is awarded for a 25th-place vote.
If all 105 voters decided to vote one team first, the team would be awarded 105 times 25 points, or 2875 Harris Poll Points. Therefore, a perfect score in the eyes of the Harris Poll voters is a 2625. The BCS takes the votes received by a team and divides that number by the perfect score (2625) for a decimal value of 1.000 or less.
For example, Ohio State, the BCS’s No. 2 in the seventh BCS standings of 2013, received 2488 points from the Harris Poll voters on November 20, the seventh Harris Poll of the year. The BCS divided 2488 by the perfect score 2625, to arrive at the Boise State’s Harris Poll score.
Harris Poll BCS Calculation Boise State Example: (2488/2625)=.9478
The same calculation is mirrored with the ESPN/USA Today Coach’s Poll. The Coach’s Poll consists of 62 voters, and the scale scoring for votes mirrors that of the Harris Poll’s. Therefore, in the Coach’s Poll, the perfect score is 62 times 25, or 1550.
The BCS then completes the same calculation and divides the score received by a team by the perfect score, 1550.
For example, Ohio State received 1462 points from the Coaches’ Poll during the seventh BCS week of 2013. The BCS divided 1462 by 1550, the perfect score in 2013 to arrive at Boise State’s Coaches Poll score.
Coaches’ Poll BCS Calculation Boise State Example: (1462/1550)=.9432
The third and final part of the BCS calculations is derived from six computer rankings posted weekly. The six computer polls, managed by people, newspapers and the BCS itself are: Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin’s USA Today and Peter Wolfe.
The BCS aggregates the standings of each of the six computer polls and awards teams 25 points for a first-place standing on a computer poll, 24 for a second, 23 for a third, and so on, just as in the human element, until one point is given for a 25th-place vote.
The BCS takes the six point values and removes the lowest and highest point values given to a specific team. Four point values are left, which the BCS adds together.
Because a perfect score would mean receiving four first-place votes, or four 25 point values, the BCS divides the team’s four computer ranking point values by 100 to arrive at the composite computer ranking value.
Computer Poll BCS Calculation Boise State Example:
Ohio State’s third-place vote from Sagarin and 1st place vote from Massey are thrown out because they are the lowest and highest rankings they received from the six computers.
The BCS completes the procedure by averaging the three values it received from the Harris Interactive College Football Poll, the USA Today Poll and the Computer Polls. The final BCS Ranking is a decimal between .0000 and 1.0000.
(Harris Poll % + Coaches’ Poll % + Computer Poll %)/3 = BCS Ranking
Ohio State BCS Ranking Example
That’s it! That’s not too bad now, is it?