Monday, October 24, 2011

Carolina Gridiron FAIR Rankings

Carolina Gridiron is proud to present the FAIR rankings of all North Carolina high school football teams.The FAIR ranking formula was created by Drew Pasteur, a mathematician whose website was a favorite for many football fans in North Carolina and Ohio.When Drew decided to focus on other areas besides North Carolina football, many fans felt like there was a void left in information.Carolina Gridiron wants to carry on what Drew started with the FAIR rankings.

According to Drew Pasteur, “the selection and seeding process for the NCHSAA football playoffs is greatly improved from the days when pre-determined brackets matched up designated conferences.However, the current system still relies too much on a team's place within its conference (even though conference sizes vary from five to nine teams).The current system also ignores strength-of-schedule, discouraging teams from playing tough non-conference foes.A power rating system could fix this, and would help ensure that the most deserving teams receive the highest seeds.”

A team earns points for each team it defeats (and more points for beating higher-classification teams).The point total is divided by the number of games played, so that playing ten games versus eleven is not a factor.Teams earn additional points (for strength-of-schedule) based on wins by teams they played.Beating good teams will result in the most points, but there is some credit for playing good teams, even if those games are lost.Bonus points are given for winning a conference championship or for being the top team from the lower class in a split conference.The ratings can be used to select and seed the playoff teams.

The FAIR rankings are based on the following criteria.

Fresh start - All teams in a particular class start the season with identical ratings, or none at all.
All games weighted equally - There is no distinction made between conference and non-conference games, and a week one endowment game counts just as much as a week twelve contest.
Ignore non-NCHSAA games - Because the quality of opponents outside the NCHSAA can very widely and can be difficult to judge, only NCHSAA games will be counted. Any contests against NCISAA or out-of-state opponents will be treated the same as an open date.
Reproducible - The formulas used should be transparent and simple enough that coaches and members of the media can verify the calculations for a particular team

Full details about how the FAIR system works:

1) A team is awarded points for each victory (or tie) based on the classification of the opponent.  No points are awarded for losses.

Opponent's classification4A3A2A1A
Points earned for a win10986
Points earned for a tie54.543

Any game against a non-NCHSAA opponent is ignored, and is considered the same as an open date.  Because a team's points earned will be divided by the number of games played in a later step, a team that plays an out-of-state opponent (or two) is not at a disadvantage.

2) A separate category of strength-of-schedule points is computed based on the results of games played by a team's opponents.  For opponents that a team defeated, all of that opponent's cumulative points count.  For games that were lost, only half of that opponent's points are earned.  And for any ties, 75% of the opponent's points are awarded.

3) A team's points for wins/ties (from #1) are divided by the number of games played.  The strength-of-schedule points from the opponents are similarly divided by the total number of games played by all opponents.  These two quotients are added to determine a team's rating.

4) Bonus points are awarded for conference championships.  A team is considered an outright champion only if they have a better conference record (higher conference winning percentage) than any other team.  If two or more teams tie for the best record, they are considered co-champions, tri-champions, etc., regardless of the head-to-head results or other tiebreakers. 

In a split conference, if the conference title is won by a team from the higher class (or shared among teams all from the higher class), then the highest finisher from the lower class also receives a bonus, provided they have a winning percentage of .500 or better in conference play.  However, a team can receive only one bonus in this category.

Conference Championship Bonuses4A3A2A1A
Outright conference champion1.51.351.20.9
Conference co-/tri-champion1.
Split conf. - top team in lower class (outright)N/A0.90.80.6
Split conf. - top team in lower class (tied)N/A0.450.40.3

5) After the conference championship bonuses are included, the teams in each class are ordered by their ratings, and the top teams advance to the playoffs.  Because games against non-NCHSAA opponents are not used, I would want to see a required minimum number of games (perhaps eight) against NCSHAA teams for playoff eligibility.  Playoff teams can then by split into sub-classifications (4A vs. 4AA), regionals (east/west), etc., and then the FAIR rankings could also be used to seed the teams in each bracket.