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Thursday, August 25, 2011
How the BCS rates the Pac-12

By staff numbers guru Brad Edwards has an interesting piece here on how the Mountain West actually is stronger than the Big East based on the BCS's official system for calculating conference strength.

But that's not why we're interested. Edwards includes the BCS' ranking of conferences by three criteria. Writes Edwards: "Those criteria evaluate the strength of the league's best team, the strength of its lead pack and its overall strength from top to bottom. All data are derived from the final BCS standings, so bowl performance is not being considered."

The Pac-12 ranks third behind the SEC and Big 12 in Criterion 1: Average ranking of highest-ranked team (final BCS standings, 2008-10).
1. SEC 1.3
2. Big 12 3.3
3. Pac-12 4.7
4. MWC 5.3
5. Big Ten 7.0
6. ACC 12.0
7. Big East 12.3
8. C-USA 27.7
9. MAC 38.0
10. WAC 38.7
11. Sun Belt 63.0

The Pac-12 ranks fourth behind the SEC, Big 12 and ACC in Criterion 2 (0.1 separate the Pac-12 and ACC): Average ranking of all teams (2011 conference membership) by the six BCS computers. The high and low rankings for each team are not discarded, as is the case when the BCS standings are calculated (BCS computers, 2008-10).
1. SEC 38.4
2. Big 12 41.5
3. ACC 45.2
4. Pac-12 45.3
5. Big Ten 46.6
6. Big East 50.3
7. MWC 63.1
8. WAC 77.0
9. C-USA 79.7
10. MAC 88.2
11. Sun Belt 98.4

And the Pac-12 ranks fourth behind the SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten in Criterion 3: Adjusted top-25 performance ranking (final BCS standings, 2008-10), which accounts for the number of top 25 teams in the conference, with weight given to where those teams ranked and an adjustment made for the number of conference members.
1. SEC 100.0
2. Big 12 90.6
3. Big Ten 88.9
4. Pac-12 77.8
5. MWC 72.9
6. Big East 45.1
7. ACC 41.7
8. WAC 10.4
t9. C-USA 2.8
t9. MAC 2.8
11. Sun Belt 0.0

Sure many of you have thoughts on this, but the good news is the Pac-12 isn't the Big East or even the ACC.

You'll see that the ACC meets the first two criteria but doesn't reach the AQ standard on the third, while the Big East comes up short of the AQ standard on the first and third. Furthermore, the Big East ranks sixth in the second part, which means that it doesn't even achieve the level that's necessary for appeal.

While third- and fourth-place finishes won't inspire any chants of "Pac-12! Pac-12," at least the conference doesn't fall short by the very measures the AQ conferences established to protect themselves from the unwashed masses stuck outside the BCS gates.