The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 16, 2012

The PiRate Ratings Return For 2012-13

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , — piratings @ 8:34 pm

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings.  We are anxiously awaiting the start of the 2012-13 NCAA FBS and NFL seasons.  A lot has changed at PiRate Central since the New York Giants wrapped up the Super Bowl in February.


The chief buccaneer himself, which just happens to be yours truly, was cleaning out his basement this spring for wont of a better thing to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  Lo and behold, I discovered an old notebook with the words, “Football Ratings” on the outside.


I took a look at the faded old tractor-fed near letter quality print.  The date on the pages of ratings said, “July, 1986.”  That was not the date for these ratings, just the date I had printed them from an old Zenith 8088 computer.  The ratings actually dated back to 1977.  It was my third generation of ratings, but my first that were based on sound statistical data.  I had the 1976 season’s full ratings on paper, and a 10-2 Texas A&M team was listed number one, a couple tenths of a point better than the AP/UPI national champion Pittsburgh team.


I remember that A&M team.  Coach Emory Bellard had brought the wishbone offense from rival Texas, where he helped Darrel Royal lead the Longhorns to a national championship in 1969.  That 1976 Aggie team was loaded with talent that returned from the 1975 squad. 


The 1975 edition won its first 10 games and looked like a possible national champion until they faced Arkansas in the final game.  Arkansas was 8-2, and if the Razorbacks won the game, they would win the Southwest Conference Championship and earn the Cotton Bowl bid.  If A&M won, they would possibly play for the national championship as one of two major teams (OhioState was the other) from a major conference (ArizonaState was 11-0, but the Seminoles were in the WAC then and not considered strong enough to merit the same prestige.  ASU would finish 12-0 after defeating a 10-1 Nebraska team in the Fiesta Bowl).


Frank Broyles’ hogs knocked the Aggies from their perch that afternoon, and A&M was forced to play a 7-4 Southern California team in the Liberty Bowl.  It also was John Mackay’s final game in Troy, and his squad sent him out a winner with an emotional 20-0 victory.  A&M had nothing to play for.  OhioState lost in the Rose Bowl, so the Aggies would have won the national title by defeating Arkansas and then a so-so Georgia team in the Cotton Bowl.


The 1976 Texas A&M team started slowly and lost two of their first five games.  Then, the Aggie Wishbone got rolling.  They were practically unstoppable the rest of the season, running opponents off the field.  They beat both Arkansas and Texas A&M by more than 20 points, and they blew Florida off the field in the Sun Bowl.  By season’s end, they were the best team in the nation.  In reality, the Sugar Bowl decided the actual champion as Tony Dorsett led Pittsburgh to a smashing and decisive win over Georgia.


I began to think about the upcoming season.  Texas A&M is now a member of the Southeastern Conference.  Pittsburgh has a new head coach that matriculated to the Panthers from my beloved Wisconsin Badgers.  Most importantly, had that 1976 Texas A&M team been around 40 years later, they would have earned the right to play for a national title.


Yes, the NCAA will decide its champion with a four-team playoff in a couple more years.  It may not be the fairest playoff system, but it is a great improvement over the BCS.


All this nostalgia led me to look at that old vintage rating of mine.  I studied it at length throughout May and early June, and I realized that it was a sound base from which to improve this way of rating teams.  With the information age upon us, it was easy to add statistics not available to me then and make these ratings more accurate.  For what it’s worth, the 1976 season was an accurate one indeed.  My ratings correctly picked 73.47% of the winners of all the Division 1 football games that season.  I did not have all the Las Vegas lines then.  I only had access to the lines of the SEC games plus some of the Southern Independents.  I noted when my spread differed from the line by 3 or more points, and my record in those games was 47-38-2 for 55.3%.


I did not find any NFL materials in that notebook, but the rating was easily convertible to the NFL.  So, beginning this year, I will be adding this new (old) rating to both the college and pro submissions.  I am calling this new rating, the “Vintage” rating.  It is not as detailed as my current PiRate Rating for college and pro or the Mean and Bias ratings for pro.  The teams will be rated in half-point increments, whereas the other ratings actually go to 10 decimal places (I round to one decimal place).


Beginning Friday, August 17, I will begin releasing my initial ratings for the season.  Here is the schedule:


August 17:      The Sunbelt Conference

August 18:      The Western Athletic Conference

August 19:      The Mid-American Conference

August 20:      The Mountain West Conference

August 21:      Conference USA

August 22:      The Big East Conference

August 23:      The Independents

August 24:      The AtlanticCoast Conference

August 25:      The Big Ten Conference

August 26:      The Pac-12 Conference

August 27:      The Big 12 Conference

August 28:      The Southeastern Conference

August 29:      The PiRate and Vintage Ratings and Spread for Week 1

August 30:      Our fun picks with an imaginary bank account



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