The Pi-Rate Ratings

October 27, 2022

PiRate Picks — October 27, 2022

Due to overwhelming new scheduling issues, this feature is truncated this week.

Selection #1: 3, team 10-point Teaser (-130)

Miami (O) + 1 1/2 vs. Akron

Penn St. + 25 1/2 vs. Ohio St.

Virginia + 11 1/2 vs. Miami (Fla)

Selection #2: Money Line Parlay @ +169.53

South Carolina over Missouri

SMU over Tulsa

Selection #3: Money Line Parlay @ +166.75

North Carolina over Pittsburgh

Wake Forest over Louisville

December 2, 2020

The Process Behind Hiring A Football Coach

What you are about to read is a compilation of the coaching search-hiring process as told to me by multiple people in multiple states with multiple schools over the course of 20 years. I have pieced this information together to attempt to show you a behind-the-scenes look at how a college football coaching search takes place. This cannot be set in stone as the only way it is done, but this is a comprehensive story based on actual events to allow you to get a feel for how it works. I have created the names for the characters, all of whom are based on multiple real life sports personnel. No individual is totally represented here. In other words, if this story was about a great pitcher from yesteryear, one character might be partially based on Lefty Grove, Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Spud Chandler, and Bobo Newsom, while another character might be partially based on Allie Reynolds, Whitey Ford, Carl Erskine, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Warren Spahn.
I have tried to present it in the fashion of the Dragnet TV series–just the facts, where the story you are about to read is based on true events, with the names changed to protect the writer and the insider friends that told him about these events.

This is the city, Springfield, USA. It’s a bit polluted and way overcrowded. It was Sunday, November 15. I was working the day watch with the Evening Star. My name is Saturday; I carry a press pass. Cue the intro music…..

Announcer: The story you are about to read is true, but based on several different incidents put together to make it something that would have brought an approving wink from Jack Webb.

The big university in town had just suffered a major defeat, and the fans and alumni were very unhappy. Promised donations were threatened; the big boosters demanded change, and the school, needing their seedling support, had to listen. Additionally, every sports talk show in Springfield spent large blocks of time telling the listening audience how terrible the football team at Big U had become since Coach Bob Fumbleton had come on board. Additionally, Athletic Director Terry Twoface, knew that if immediate improvement in the program in some form or another didn’t change the malaise, that he too would be out of work.

AD Twoface had thought long and hard about firing Coach Fumbleton the year before, but the prohibitive buyout was a major issue, and he decided that giving Fumbleton an extra year to turn things around would be the better option, especially when Coach Hugh Loveme was quickly gobbled up by Franklin State. Loveme was the only real needle-moving gem last year.

Twoface now has a year to begin doing the background work on potential candidates for the Big U football job should Coach Fumbleton suffer another losing season. He gives the coach a public vote of confidence, even though privately, he has begun his coaching search for the following year if Fumbleton doesn’t turn things around.

During the season, it becomes obvious that Fumbleton has taken the Big U program backwards a little more and has not turned the program in the right direction. Twoface has been doing his homework. He has monitored all the potential up and coming coaches that would definitely be interested in coming to Big U if the job was available.
During the year, Twoface puts out feelers to a handful of choice sports agents, the guys that represent multiple head and assistant coaches. The agents are an incredible source. The ones with dozens of clients know which ones are ready to tackle a job like Big U. They have to know this, because if they recommend a lemon to an AD, the AD might not contact him the next time there is a job opening at the school.

Super agent, Jordan Fasttalker, is the reigning king of college coaches in the Springfield area and surrounding countryside. He has a stable full of thoroughbreds ready to become college head coaches. Three of them are just exactly what Big U needs–they are the opposite of Fumbleton. Fumbleton was a defensive wizard as the DC at the former national champions plus three years as head coach at a Group of 5 team, where he went 27-9 before getting the Big U job.

In order, Agent Fasttalker believes that Coach Green, Coach Brown, and Coach Gold are his three best prospects for Big U. He has other clients that want the job, but he has a reputation at stake and cannot take a gamble with some of his less experienced clients that he feels aren’t ready for the Big U job. Fasttalker lets Twoface know that these are the three he should look at during the season. All three have recruiting experience in Springfield’s conference as well as the talent-rich states that send a lot of big-time prospects to teams in that league. All three come from the offensive side of the ball, as they were offensive coordinators at major programs before their current job. Coach Green is OC for a two-time conference champion from a P5 school, and his team pulled off that big upset of the number one team last year in that ABC nationally televised game. Coach Brown has the top offense in college football, and he’s in the process of going 10-2 at a G5 school that hasn’t had a 10-win season ever and only had four years with eight or more wins. Coach Gold was the head coach at a Power 5 school for four years, and he went 25-25 in a rebuild that wasn’t enough to satisfy that school. After he was fired, he became OC at a big program and restored their offensive prowess. He then took a job as an offensive coach in the NFL and did admirable work but realized he would rather be coaching in college and wants another chance to show that he can be a head coach.

Twoface monitors these three coaches all through September, October, and November. He also has a list of five or six additional coaches from two other agents, giving him a working list of eight or nine. He knows by October that he is going to have to make the coaching change, hoping he can save his own job in the process. As rumors begin to fly that Coach Fumbleton is going to lose his job, Twoface has to do his best doublespeak not to answer any questions or imply something one way or the other. This is actually a sign to the agents and coaches that Fumbleton is already two steps out the door and knows it.

At this point, other coaches not in the mix of the group being monitored contact their agents to tell them to shop their name with Big U. A couple of these candidates may be total surprises to Twoface when their agents drop feelers about them. Twoface isn’t interested in a dozen of the names that come to him, but when he sees an email come to his email address at 6:05 AM from Agent Daman asking him what he thought about Coach Charles Prince at Formerchampion Tech, he’s intrigued and immediately returns the email at 6:08 AM. Agent Daman knows this is super important. When he sends an email about one of his coach clients, most of the time, there is no reply at all. To get a reply three minutes later at this time of the morning means, get hold of Coach Prince before he can get into coaching staff meetings to tell him that he might be able to get him a major pay raise, either by staying at Formerchamp Tech or by getting a fresh start at Big U. Springfield is a much better city for a family, and Coach Prince’s family has felt like outsiders the entire time they’ve lived in Champville. The fans at Formerchamp have not been happy with Prince’s three consecutive 10-3 seasons since going 14-1 four years ago. They have raised expectations much too high for their school, which isn’t exactly the best place to build a program.

AD Twoface now has a list of 12-15 candidates as he takes his kids Trick or Treating on Halloween. As he walks his kids from door to door, he’s thinking in his head that he is going to have to cut the list to 7 or 8 candidates, but he might need some help. Officially, the job still belongs to Fumbleton, but the industry has already begun spinning the wheels, and it is obvious to those in the know that Fumbleton will be collecting a nice fat check to stay home next year.

After Big U loses by 5 touchdowns to a league rival on November 14, the school president contacts Twoface to tell him that he has received considerable communication from people that matter, the big donors, about the football job. Twoface, who has kept the president in the loop for the past year, knew this call would come after this game, because months ago, they determined that if a change was to be made, it would be made before the end of the football season. Because 7-10 other schools would soon be making coaching changes, Big U wanted to be a priority before some of the prospects on Twoface’s list took other jobs.

So, on Sunday, November 15, Twoface sent for Coach Fumbleton. Twoface had been patting Fumbleton on the back all year and kept telling him that there was time to turn things around, which is why he got another year. Now, twoface has a glum look on his face as Fumbleton enters his office and sinks into the chair that makes him look 6 inches smaller than Twoface, who’s plush chair sits on a platform that makes him out to be a lord.

Fumbleton knows immediately that he has reached his expiration date at Big U. Twoface tells Fumbleton that the President, the board, and the big donors are all in agreement that it is time the school moves in another direction. He assures Fumbleton that the school attorneys and his agent will work through all the details, and they will honor the terms of the previous contract. Later, the attorneys will offer the agent a deal where if the coach accepts a smaller buyout than what was in the contract that they will ignore the clause that cancels the buyout should the coach take any other job with another school or an NFL team. So, rather than pay the $14.5 million left on the contract over the next four years, if Coach Fumbleton will take $8.7 million over those four years, then he can keep it all and look for another job without forfeiting the buyout. Fumbleton’s agent will urge him to agree to this, or else he better not plan on coaching college football again.

The narrator at the Evening Star working the day watch is one of the best at his business. He has a nice expense account where the secretaries, janitor, interns, and other people inside the coaching offices receive nice little gifts from time to time. Coach Fumbleton’s secretary, Della Delight, got a free ticket center stage to the Dreamy Danny concert at the Springfield Convention Hall. She was so close to Dreamy Danny that his sweat struck her right cheek. She is indebted to our Evening Star crack reporter. Three minutes after Coach Fumbleton comes out to inform our lovely secretary that he has just been dismissed as head coach. He asks her to help interim head coach David Nochance out for the final two games, and then he tells her that he will give her any reference she needs for a new job if the next coach does not retain her. Della isn’t naive. She knew months ago that Fumbleton was walking dead at Big U. Her first action is to call our ace reporter at the Evening Star to give him the scoop. Before Fumbleton can get to his car to leave Big U, ace reporter breaks the story, and within four minutes, the news has gone viral.

That’s not the end of our ace reporter’s actions. All year, he has also been wining and dining Twoface’s secretary Sheila Shorthand. Sheila has to do all the correspondence for Twoface, because Twoface delegates that tedious work to her. Sheila knows what’s going on, and she can tell our ace reporter the names of all the potential candidates that Twoface has been considering for the last year; she’s even seen that email from Coach Prince’s agent. Because ace reporter doesn’t want to make it obvious that he’s gotten this inside information from Sheila, as it will cost Sheila her job, he throws in some ringers that are not on the list but maybe should be. In a couple of cases, some of the coaches that are ringers have asked him (or their agents have asked) to put their names out there to help them get a raise at their current school or to hope that they can get added late to the list.

The school planned to announce the Fumbleton firing later in the day, but ace reporter forced the issue by breaking the news. So, they have to issue a public statement earlier than they wanted to do so, but it’s no big deal–it happens every time!

Within 48 hours, every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the sports world, be it on radio, tv, or newspaper, or internet, gives their list of candidates. The fans respond, and this actually is monitored by officials at Big U. If Coach X is greatly out of favor, and the fans say that they won’t buy tickets or support the program, Coach X loses some rating points in the process. If there is a groundswell of support for any candidate or candidates that are already on the private list, this is noted. After all, these schools are in business to make money (and you thought it was about education). Football is a lucrative industry, and coaches are like their salesforce. If the customers dislike the salesforce, they don’t buy.

Now, the AD forms a blue-ribbon panel of important people to Big U. The school president has his own emissary on this blue-ribbon panel. They begin meeting Monday night to decide on how the process will go, and they agree that they need to have their man signed before December 7, because Fumbleton has a nice commitment list in the next recruiting class, and hiring a coach by the 7th gives him 10 days to convince the prospects to sign, as well as the time to rescind the offers to recruits he doesn’t want and offer some recruits from his previous school to switch to Big U. It’s a tough dog-eat-dog business, and that’s how it goes. Even 18 year old kids get their hopes crushed in the process.

On that first Monday night, they decide to narrow their list to five candidates and then hire the Bean Search Firm to do the leg work and perform background checks and get third-party opinions on each of the candidates. Before the panel narrows the list to five, they have to get a reassurance that each of the five will agree to interview for the job if they are on the list. This is just a verification, because their agents have already indicated that their clients’ want the Big U job.

On this Monday night, any last-second additions to this list of about a dozen prospects are made. It could be that Marty Moneybags happens to have a contact at Jefferson and Lincoln University, and they know that Coach Thomas Abraham has been wanting to get out of J & L because he feels like he has reached the limit of what he can do there. Abraham was never on the list of possibilities, because Twoface had no idea that he would have an interest. Then, he looks in his file and finds an email from Abraham’s agent, so he knows this is real.

The blue-ribbon panel meets on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and on Wednesday night, a representative from Bean Search Firm is there. Exhaustive notes are taken, and by the time the panel adjourns on Wednesday night, they have narrowed the list that had grown to 14 down to nine. On Thursday morning, Twoface meets one on one with the Bean representative telling him all the parameters Big U wants to follow in this process. He tells the Bean guy that by the weekend, he will have five names for him to include, and Bean has him sign a contract with a flat fee for the search. In this case, the five-person debrief will cost Big U a quarter million dollars. Twoface doesn’t bat an eye and agrees to the price, as Bean is the penultimate search firm. The last three national champions were coached by candidates that Bean had helped schools sign.

On Saturday, Big U looks their worst of the season for their interim coach. A lot of the players have signed out and just go through the motions, most notably the linebacker that played like a matador all day. He won’t even suit up for the finale against Big U’s rival the following Saturday. Meanwhile, Twoface is busy in his office. He’s making phone calls to all the contacts he trusts. He talks to alums not on the panel. He talks with two of the panel members, basically the two that are competent to be in the loop. By Sunday morning, after a workout and jog, Twoface informs the school President, and the school’s top football benefactor the five names he is leaning toward. The President doesn’t know a flanker back from a cornerback, so he just wants to see that progress has been made. He is really competent at reading others, and he sees the approval in the eyes and voice of the big benefactor. When the big benefactor praises Twoface on this list, Twoface’s job is now secure for another couple years. He then contacts the Bean guy and gives him the list of five.

The media tries desperately at this time to get inside information, but at this point, they can get defense plans from the Pentagon easier than they can get this list of names. They can only guess, and of course, if they throw out enough names, they are going to get all five finalists from among a list of 20 candidates. The old-timers know how things work, and maybe one or two of the media members can do in his head what the panel has done. There are a very few clever media members that can replicate what the panel has done and maybe come up with three or four of the five finalists. The rest are just guessing. Some will claim to have inside information, but at this point, even Della doesn’t have this information, and if anything really leaked, it would be easy enough to discover the leaker.

Now, on some occasions, some Twoface might leak a name or two as trial balloons by having a surrogate claim to have inside information, which in this case, he does. Twoface wants to see what the reaction is when third-party Tommy gives this information to Football Rumors Online, and there are comments made by qualified football personnel (not fans). Maybe, some retired coach or NFL expert will make a comment that one of the coaches on that list is the best at preparing a QB for the NFL. Maybe a news outlet will report that another coach is on the verge of taking a different job. Anything that can help Twoface move one candidate ahead of the other is considered.

After three days of exhaustive research, the Bean company gives Twoface a preliminary report on their work. They begin recommending a pecking order based on the criteria that does not include coaching ability or recruiting competence. They tell Twoface who is ready to be an administrator and excellent manager of other coaches. They tell Twoface all the positive and negative things about each candidate.

Two days later, Bean has now had communications with all five finalists. They give this information to Twoface and make their recommendations one through five. Twoface now relays all this information to the panel, and now the President is in the room as well. He gives the go ahead to conduct interviews with the top four on the list, eliminating number five.

At this time, candidate number three has interviewed for a different school, and his agent informs Twoface that if he wants the coach, an offer needs to come in the next 48 hours. Because he’s third out of four on the list, Twoface cannot do this, so the list is now down to three.

Twoface and two others he values meet with each of the final three candidates in a secret location not in Springfield and not in the coachs’ current city of residence. A high quality hotel in a major city that doesn’t draw any connections to Twoface or the coach flying there has a private room where the employees have no clue who is meeting. On rare occasions, some bellhop or desk clerk will recognize that Coach so and so was seen at the hotel that afternoon, and he was not meeting with a woman if you know what I mean. He will contact his favored media member to try to become an important person and tell the guy that he saw Coach so and so meeting with somebody in the suite on the 11th floor.

At this point, the smart media person that got the scoop will look into his files and find that Coach so and so uses Michael Makemerich is his agent. He calls Makemerich later in the day to see if the story is true. Makemerich knows it is not wise to lie or try to deny it. So, he confirms that his client met with Big U earlier in the day and then asks him to do him a favor in return and parse the news to make it not hurt if the client is not the chosen candidate.

So, when you hear that a certain coach is talking with Big U, don’t take that as gospel that he is their selected choice. He’s just one of a host of candidates. If the media guy wants a long career where he gets other scoops, he will sit on this information. If that particular candidate gets the job, then the agent will contact him first to give him the best scoop of all–the accurate one.

After conducting the interviews, Twoface now quickly meets with the Panel, the school President, and now the legal team is involved as well, because a contract has to be drawn up on quick notice once the school offers the job to one of the candidates and then gets a positive reply. At this point, the school needs to have set parameters in place to begin as a negotiating midpoint between the legal team and the agent.

There might be another interview process with the top two choices, because they are 1A and 1B in the process. If not, there is a day where nothing happens, so that the candidates not in the mix at this point can officially pull out of the search to help them save face and not hurt them at their current position.

Sandwiched in this action is Big U’s final game against their heated rival. Big U plays a valiant effort and loses a close game to finish the season. Now, all attention turns to the new reality that is to come.

Usually by this time, the media has figured it out. If there were five serious candidates, and four of them have pulled out, then the one that hasn’t pulled out is about to become the new coach. The only thing that can affect this is if the chosen candidate pulls out at the 11th hour. Then, the school has to backtrack and try to get one of the coaches that pulled out to push back in.

Most of the time, the coaches that get this far are serious about taking the job. There won’t be any surprises at this point. The panel meets one final time to come to 100% agreement that they have their choice. The President signs off on the choice, and then Twoface or the President makes the call to the agent that they want his candidate. In many instances, there is a three-way call to the agent and the candidate to officially offer him the job.

At this point, 99% of the time, the response is favorable, but nobody knows it outside of the participants in the phone call. Before it can be made official, the legal aspects of the job have to be hammered out, and the agent has to sign off on the entire contract as the coach’s representative. This can take 24-48 hours. This is when the news of the real candidate can be leaked, because it is hard to hide this final dead period between when the offer is made, and the contract is signed.

Now, it becomes that wonderful time of the year known as airplane flight monitoring. It has become as loved as watching the NFL Draft. Fans of the school know the twin-engine jet that the school uses to pick up its coaches and bring them to Springfield. They begin following the flight plans daily to see where that plane is headed. It might make 10 trips in the final fortnight. Three of those trips happen to coincidentally be to cities near where some of the coaches on the list live. None of these flights have a thing to do with the football coaching search. Maybe, eventually, somebody will notice that the plane makes a stop in Tinytown USA on the way back from Boca Raton and stops for two hours before returning to Springfield. Maybe one or two people will figure it out that the plane is carrying two additional passengers, namely a coach and his wife from the university 20 miles away from Tinytown Airport. They will go on their school’s media fansite forum and break the news that they think Coach so and so is on the flight. This guy will become the big man on the forum for correctly predicting the coach.

The media will get wind of the hire about 12-24 hours before the announcement is official. The school likes this, because it gives the media time to digest the news and make helpful commentary on the hire. It will also help recruits know who the school plans to hire, and it will create extra enthusiasm.

The school then makes the announcement that they have hired a coach, and that they will formally introduce Coach so and so at a press conference at 2:00 PM.

And in the end, it is a surprise to so many that Coach Charles Prince is the new savior. He didn’t even become known as a potential candidate until that bellhop saw him in the hotel. That one sports forum fan, the smart guy that should be doing something important instead of wasting his time on fan forums, was considered a kook when he correctly guessed the right coach. Now that he got it right, everybody on the forum takes credit for knowing it was going to be him all along.

February 17, 2020

PiRate Ratings Bracketology for February 17, 2020














San Diego St.





Florida St.


Seton Hall

Penn St.







West Virginia





Michigan St.



Ohio St.







Texas Tech









Saint Mary’s



Rhode Island


Arizona St.



Wichita St.


Northern Iowa

East Tennessee St.


Stephen F. Austin





Utah St.




North Texas

New Mexico St.




Wright St.



Little Rock



Murray St.


South Dakota St.


Prairie View

St. Peter’s

Robert Morris

Norfolk St.


The Rest of the Bubble








Mississippi St.


North Carolina St.




South Carolina












A Look At The One-Bid Leagues & Their Conference Tournaments


America East: 8 teams with superior seed hosting every game

Vermont (11-1/21-6) has a 2 1/2 game lead over Stony Brook (8-3/17-9), and it would be a major upset if any team other than the Catamounts won this tournament. The race for third place between Albany (7-4/14-12) and Hartford (7-5/14-13) is important, because the 3rd place finisher would get to avoid Vermont until the Championship Game. Of course, second place is still up for grabs, and in the semifinals, the second place team would host the third place team if they both won their quarterfinal round games.

Atlantic Sun: 8 teams with superior seed hosting every game (North Alabama not eligible)

What looked like a cake walk to the conference championship in December has turned into anything but. Liberty (10-2/24-3) was coming off a season in which the Flames won a game in the NCAA Tournament and returned a ton of talent. But, the Flames are not currently in first place in the A-Sun. North Florida (11-2/18-10) not only has a one half game lead over LU, they beat the Flames earlier this year. The rematch is this Thursday at Liberty.

Don’t rule out the third and fourth teams in this league. Stetson (9-3/15-12) has never been to the Division 1 NCAA Tournament, but the Hatters have been in contention in recent years. Lipscomb (7-6/12-14) is the hottest team in the league, having won five of six including a 12-point victory over UNF. The Bisons still have games remaining with the top two teams before tournament play begins.


Big Sky: 11 teams in regular bracket at Boise, ID

There is no dominant team inside the league this year. Defending champion Montana (12-3/16-10) was supposed to have a rebuilding season after losing five of the top seven players from consecutive conference championship teams. Give Travis Decuire a lot of credit for his ability to recruit to Missoula and then teach his players to play as a team. The whole is much better than the sum of the parts, and Decuire rates high on our coaches ready to move on to Power Conference schools list, as he is close to leading the Grizzlies to their fourth conference championship in his six years at the school.

Eastern Washington (10-4/17-8) and Northern Colorado (10-4/17-8) are the next two in line in the Big Sky, but EWU has already been swept by Montana, while UNC is one of the three league teams to pin a loss on the Grizzlies. Keep an eye on 6th place Southern Utah (7-7/14-11). The Thunderbirds have been in a bit of a tailspin in the last month, but if they can pull out of it and play like they did in December, they could be a tough out for any of the top five in the league.

Big South: 11 teams. The first round is played at the home court of the higher-seeded team. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds are then played at the #1 seed’s home floor. The Championship Game is then played on the higher-seeded team’s home floor.

With first place vital in this conference, Winthrop (13-2/19-9) and Radford (12-2/17-9) have separated themselves from the pack and will most likely share the regular season title with identical 16-2 conference records. Since they split their season series with both teams winning on the road against each other, the #1 seed would be settled in a tiebreaker by looking at how these two co-champs fared against the next team in the standings and so forth until the tie is broken. Winthrop’s other conference loss was to 7-6 Gardner-Webb, while Radford’s loss was to 6-8 UNC Asheville. Radford has the advantage here, but remember that Winthrop won at Radford in the regular season, and the Eagles have the superior inside game, which tends to play more of a factor in March.

Big West: 8 teams in regular bracket. All games in Anaheim

UC-Irvine (9-2/17-10) lost some big-time talent off a team that won a game last year’s Big Dance and took Oregon to the final minutes in the Round of 32, but Coach Russ Turner has his Anteaters in first place again this year, and UCI is running away with the regular season race.

The real race is between the second through eighth place teams. First, the ninth place team does not qualify for the tournament, and at the moment, just two games separate second from ninth. Any of the eight teams other than UCI could miss out, while any of the other eight teams could end up with the number two seed. UCSB (5-5/16-9) matches up well with UCI and has a victory over the Anteaters, but they have been swept by Cal St. Northridge (6-5/11-16) and handily defeated by UC-Davis (6-5/12-15). UC-Riverside (4-7/14-13) is a team to watch if they don’t miss out and finish in ninth place. The Highlanders have a very tall lineup that can control the boards and get inside shots when they can control the pace of their games. They are capable of winning three times in three days at the Honda Center.

Colonial Athletic: 10 teams in regular bracket. All games in Washington, D.C.

This is a somewhat down year for the CAA as there are no teams that look capable of winning a second round NCAA Tournament game. The conference race is an interesting one with seven better than average teams.

Joe Mihalich led Niagara to four conference championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances before coming to Hofstra (11-3/20-7). This is his seventh season in Hempstead, and he’s won two CAA Championships thus far, inlcuding last season. This Gaels team is in line to make it number three, but Hofstra has yet to win the CAA Tournament in this time. This teams isn’t as good as last year’s, so it’s hard to say that the Gaels are big favorites to make it to the Dance for the first time since Jay Wright was coaching there in 2001.

Willliam & Mary (10-5/18-10), Delaware (9-5/19-8), and Towson (9-5/16-11) are next in line, but the potentially more dangerous teams are behind them. Charleston (9-6/15-12) and defending Conference Tournament champion Northeastern (7-7/13-13) are talented enough to steal the bid from Hofstra yet again. Charleston is probably the team to watch in the CAA Tournament.

Conference USA: 12 teams in regular bracket. All games in Frisco, TX.

This is a really unique way to host a conference tournament in the Dallas Cowboys practice facility. The league places two playing floors separated by a curtain, and it is possible to sit in such a way that you can see two games at once.

There is quite an advantage here, as the tournament takes place in the backyard of North Texas (12-2/18-9), the current league leader. The Mean Green are undefeated in conference play on their home floor, and they would have to be considered the prohibitive favorite to claim the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Western Kentucky (11-3/18-8) defeated UNT in Bowling Green earlier this year, but the Hilltoppers suffered a crippling blow when sure NBA Draft choice big man Charles Bassey’s season ended with a leg injury.

Louisiana Tech (10-4/19-7) plays tough defense, handles the ball well, and they frequently get extra scoring opportunities, so the Bulldogs are a top contender in the conference tournament. If any other team should sneak through and cut the nets at Jerryworld Headquarters, they would most likely be looking at a 16-seed and possible trip to Dayton.

Horizon: 10 teams. The first two rounds are played at the higher-seeded teams’ home courts. Also, after every round, this league re-seeds its remaining teams like the NFL Playoffs. The final two rounds will then be played in Indianapolis, and the top two teams receive byes to the semifinal round, so finishing first or second is extremely important.

Like they have in recent years, this has been a two-team race, and it’s almost a sure thing that Wright St. (13-2/23-5) and Northern Kentucky (11-4/19-8) will be the top two teams. Wright St. is enjoying its best season in their 14-year run as the class of the Horizon League. However, the Raiders did not have a strong out-of-conference schedule, and we would be shocked if they were to win a game in the NCAA Tournament.

Northern Kentucky is transitioning with a new coach, and the Norse are not as strong as they were under former coach John Brannen, who took NKU to two NCAA Tournaments in his final three years.

Ivy: 4 teams in regular bracket. Games will be played at Harvard.

The Ivy League probably has the correct format for a smaller conference. Only the top four teams qualify for the conference tournament, meaning the champion is at least one of the league’s deserving teams.

As of today, the interesting part of this league is that five teams are competing for four spots. All tied for third with 5-3 conference records and six games to go are Harvard (16-7), Penn (13-8), and Brown (12-9).

Yale (6-2/18-6) and Princeton (6-2/11-10) are only a game ahead of the other three, and both teams must finish their regular season playing four road games and two home games. So, one of the co-leaders could easily fall to 8-6 or 7-7 in league play and finish fifth.

Harvard hosts the tournament, and the Crimson have four home games and just two road games remaining. But, those four home games are versus the other four contenders.

Dartmouth (2-6/9-14) is three games behind the contenders, but the Mean Green have the perfect remaining schedule with four home games, while their two road games are against the two weakest teams in the league. It isn’t impossible for Dartmouth to finish 7-7, and then hope that two of those 5-3 teams come back to the pack.

Metro Atlantic: 11 teams in regular bracket. Games will be played in Atlantic City, NJ

What we have here is an almost sure trip to Dayton for the Conference Tournament champion. The MAAC is quite weak this year, and the automatic bid will go to a team that will immediately become an underdog in a first round play-in game unless some 20-loss team pulls off a conference tournament upset.

Saint Peter’s (10-5/13-11) has gone 8-2 in their last ten games. Former Seton Hall star Shaheen Holloway is in his second year with the Peacocks, and his team is the best in the league in defense and rebounding. As hot as the Peacocks have been, there is one team even hotter. Siena (9-5/13-10) has won six of their last seven games, and the six wins were by an average of more than 16 points per game. The Saints have been on a three-point shooting tear in this winning streak, hitting 40 of 103 from behind the arc, while limiting opponents to just 29-106.

Mid-American: 12 teams in regular bracket. First round games at higher-seeded teams. Remaining rounds in Cleveland.

This is not a particularly strong year for some Maction. This is a definite one-bid league, while in past years multiple teams have made the Field.
This is also the only league that continues to divide its teams into divisions. At the present time, the East is a bit stronger than the West, as it has the top four teams in the league. Bowling Green (10-3/19-7) has a slim half-game edge over Akron (9-3/19-6), while Kent St. (7-5/17-8) and defending MAC Champ Buffalo (7-5/15-9) are right behind.

In the West, Northern Illinois (8-5/15-11) leads Ball St. (7-5/14-11) by a half-game with Central Michigan (6-5/13-11) another half-game back, with all three teams tied in the loss column.

Akron and Kent St. have played stronger schedules than the rest of these teams, but neither has pulled off a big win. The Zips probably give this league its best chance to compete as a double-digit seed in the second round of the Dance.

Mideastern Athletic: 10 teams in regular bracket. All games will be played in Norfolk, VA

North Carolina Central (8-2/12-12) and Nofolk St. (8-2/12-13) hold slim leads over North Carolina A&T (8-3/12-14) and Florida A&M (8-4/10-13), but FAMU is not eligible this year. This is a league where past history showing the #1 seed winning the conference tournament over half the time, and teams finishing fourth or fifth tending to win most of the other times.

There are three teams in contention for fifth place where a 9-7 conference mark should be sufficient to qualify as that dark horse contender. They are: Morgan St. (7-5/13-14), Bethune-Cookman (6-5/12-13), and South Carolina St, (6-5/11-12).
Should either of the top three teams run the table in the league and the conference tournament, there is a chance they could avoid a play-in game in Dayton.

Missouri Valley: 10 teams in regular bracket. All games will be played in St. Louis (Arch Madness)

This is one of two leagues where the regular season champion could still get an at-large bid if it loses in the conference tournament. Northern Iowa (11-3/22-4) has worked its way up the ladder where if they win out, the Panthers could earn a single-digit seed in the Field of 68. If UNI were to lose in the Valley Championship Game and finish the regular season at 28-5, they will probably steal an at-large bid away from a big league like the Big Ten, ACC, SEC, or Big 12.

Loyola of Chicago (10-4/18-9) isn’t nearly as strong as they were two years ago when they surprised the nation with a Final Four run, but the Ramblers are good enough to beat UNI in the Conference Tournament if they handle the ball well and play tough defense. Both of their regular season games with the Panthers went to overtime, with the teams splitting the two games.

Bradley (9-5/18-9) did not match up well with the two teams above the Braves in the MVC standings, while Southern Illinois (9-5/15-12) lacks the offensive firepower to win three games in three days in March.

Keep an eye on a team coming from off the pace to challenge UNI in the MVC Tournament. Drake, Indiana State, Valparaiso, and Missouri State are all tied at 7-7 in the league. It might be advantageous to finish 6th and avoid UNI until a potential championship game. While Arch Madness is usually won by one of the top two seeds, it has been won from the middle of the pack before.

Northeast: 8 teams in regular bracket. All games will be played at higher-seeds’ home courts. Merrimack is ineligible during their transition to D1, while the bottom two teams of the remaining 10 will be eliminated from the tournament.

The rule forcing transitioning teams to be ineligible for the NCAA Tournament is just plain stupid. The NEC has a dominating team in Merrimack (12-2/18-9), who should at least get a chance to prove themselves with an NIT bid. If a team is good enough to win their conference championship and conference tournament, why punish the team and their league? Merrimack doesn’t have an advantage moving up in classification. It’s understandable that a team moving down might should be punished with ineligibility until all of its former Division 1 players have graduated, but this is a team moving up to D1.

The eventual tournament champion is a sure bet for banishment to Dayton and the play-in game. The contenders are all quite weak and none of these teams should be expected to compete against more athletic play-in opponents. The best of the rest include Robert Morris (11-3/15-12), Saint Francis (PA) (10-4/17-8), and Sacred Heart (9-5/16-11). With a five-game winning streak and the best offense in the league, SFPA should be considered the team to beat.

Ohio Valley: 8 teams playing in a special format in Evansville, IN. The OVC brackets their tournament in a method similar to the finals of the Professional Bowlers Association. First, only the top eight of the 12 league teams qualify for the tournament. In the first round, teams 5-8 play, with the two winners advancing to the quarterfinals to play teams 3-4. The two teams that win this round then advance to the semfinals to play teams 1 and 2, so finishing in the top two gets you a two-round bye to the semifinals.

There are four teams in contention for those two double byes, and this league is strong at the top, but not strong enough to sneak a second team into the field like last year.

Murray St. (12-2/19-7) and Austin Peay (12-2/18-9) have been tough rivals for years in the OVC and have enjoyed their share of success in the NCAA Tournament. Belmont (11-3/20-7) beat Temple in the NCAA Tournament last year, but the Bruins have nearly beaten top-rated teams in the NCAA Tournament before, like when a last second shot nearly missed that would have knocked out Duke. Fourth place Eastern Kentucky (10-4/13-14) has averaged 83.5 points per game in their last nine games, using a pressure defense to come up with a lot of steals and fast break points. The Colonels don’t have the same talent as the other three contenders, but they are likely to come with a reckless abandon attitude, while the others might be a bit tight.

If a team from the back of the pack has a chance, it might be Tennessee State (8-6/16-11). The Tigers have the talent to put it together and as a 5-seed, beat the numbers 8, 4, and 1-seed to get to the Championship Game.

Patriot: 8 teams playing in a regular bracket with the higher seeds hosting all games.

Colgate (11-3/20-7) looked like the class of the field until yesterday, when the Raiders fell second division Loyola of Maryland (5-9/13-14). Colgate also lost twice to Lafayette (8-6/16-9). Second place Boston U (10-4/16-11) has won six of seven, but the Terriers lost twice to Colgate. American (9-5/13-12) is in third, while the aforementioned Lafayette rests in fourth place, which probably irritates Colgate, because that would put the Leopards and Raiders on the same side of the Conference Tournament bracket.

Southern: 10 teams playing in a regular bracket with all games played in Asheville, NC.

This is the other league besides the Missouri Valley where a second team could earn an at-large bid. This league is dangerously good at the top of the standings. East Tennessee (12-2/23-4) won at LSU by double digits. Furman (12-2/22-5) lost in overtime at Auburn. UNC Greensboro (11-3/21-6) has road wins against Georgetown and Vermont as well as a close loss at Kansas. Plus, UNCG plays a very unorthodox defense that is difficult to face the first time. Additionally, the fourth through seventh place teams, all with records of 8-6 or 7-7 in league play (Western Carolina, Wofford, Chattanooga, and Mercer) are strong enough to probably win other Mid-Major leagues like the NEC, Patriot, and Big Sky).

If the two championship game participants include ETSU and either Furman or UNCG, the loser of this game deserves an at-large bid, especially if it is at the expense of a power conference team with a losing conference record.

Southland: 8 teams playing in a regular bracket with all games played in Katy, TX, and the bottom five teams in the standings eliminated from the tournament.

Stephen F. Austin (13-1/22-3) will not get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if they do not win the automatic bid, even though the Lumberjacks won at Duke. The rest of their schedule has not been strong enough to allow them this pass. Should they lose in the SLC Tournament, SFA will actually be a team capable of winning the NIT,but that’s not what they want.

Who could possibly upset SFA in the Conference Tournament? The team to watch would be Nicholls State (11-4/17-9). The Colonels full court press the entire game, and nobody wants to face that pressure in pressure-packed games. At 10 steals per game out of 73 possessions, it leaves little room for error for the team that commits a few too many additional turnovers. Opponents turn the ball over better than one out of every four possessions.

Southwest Athletic: 8 teams playing in a regular bracket with first round games at the higher seeded teams’ home courts and all the final two rounds in Birmingham, AL.

If you follow this incredible conference steeped in great history, you are in for quite a treat at this year’s SWAC Tournament, because as many as seven teams have the ability to come through and get the automatic bid. This might be the most exciting tournament from game one to the Championship Game!

Prairie View (9-2/13-11) and Texas Southern (8-3/11-13) lead the pack at the present time. Both teams have played some very good games on the road against heavy favorites, and both have won games that prove they could contend and maybe scare a heavily-ranked team if one of these teams could sneak into a 15-seed.

After the top two, there are five teams tied for third at 7-5 (Grambling, Alcorn St., Jackson St., Southern, and Alabama St.). We believe that Texas Southern gives the SWAC its best chance to win a play-in game as a 16-seed, while Prairie View is the only team capable of sneaking up to a 15-seed.

Summit: 9 teams playing in a regular bracket with all games played in Sioux Falls, SD.

When your conference tournament is played inside the state where two of your league’s top three teams play, the odds are stacked in the favor of the two in-state teams. South Dakota St. (11-2/20-8) has basically become the Kentucky of the Summit League. The Championship comes through Brookings and then Sioux Falls becomes Frost Arena II, where the Jackrabbits have won five of the last eight Summit League Tournaments.

North Dakota State (10-2/19-7) finished behind SDSU last year in the Summit League race, but then the Bison won the Summit Championship, then won their play-in game in the NCAA First Round, and then stayed within single digits of Duke for 30 minutes in the Second Round.

Don’t forget South Dakota (9-4/19-9) or Oral Roberts (7-6/14-12). Both teams can score a lot of points, and a hot streak by either team could see them cutting down the nets.

Sun Belt: 10 teams playing in a special bracket. The first three rounds will be played at the higher-seeded teams’ home courts, while the semifinals and finals will be played in New Orleans. Teams 7-10 only will play in the first round. The two winners will then play at seeds 5-6 in the second round, and the two winners in that round will play at seeds 3-4 in the third round. The top two seeds get byes to the semifinals in New Orleans, so the regular season conference race will be a mad dash to the finish.

The SBC plays a 20-game conference schedule, and with four games to go, Little Rock (12-4/18-9) holds a slim lead over (Georgia St. (11-5/18-9). Texas St. (10-6/17-10) and Georgia Southern (10-6/17-11). Two other teams, South Alabama and Appalachian St., are 9-7 in the league and still in the race for second place.

All these teams have had nights where they played a good Power Conference team close in a loss, but none of these teams have a big win this year. The champion of this league is likely looking at a quick second round exit as a 15-seed.

Western Athletic: 8 teams playing in regular bracket with all games played in Las Vegas. California Baptist is ineligible.

New Mexico State (12-0/21-6) is such a heavy favorite that it would be a bigger upset if they lost in the WAC Tournament than if the New York Knicks won this year’s NBA Championship. The Aggies have won this league three years in a row and seven times in the last eight seasons.

With second place Cal Baptist (7-3/18-7) not eligible, the next best team is Grand Canyon (7-4/12-13) with Texas Rio Grande Valley next at (7-5/11-14).

October 16, 2019

PiRate Ratings Picks For October 17-21, 2019

Hooray, Hooray!  Maybe our little ditty we recited at the beginning of last week’s picks really worked!  That ditty went this way, “Yuck, Yuck, Yuck, I want more luck!”  It has to do with a childhood saying, and it worked then and apparently worked last week.

Both our PiRate Picks and Experimental Davey19 picks won.  The PiRate Picks enjoyed a windfall weekend with big wins.  Another 6 or 7 weeks in a row just like this, and we might even get back to level in our imaginary bank accounts.

While we have been trying to issue our money line parlay picks on Friday, we have a Thursday night game that is included in our selections, we have to issue those picks today as well.

Remember, the PiRates never wager real money on the outcomes of these games, and we also remind you that you frequently get what you pay for, and this is totally free.


PiRate Ratings Picks


10-point Teasers, 3 Game Parlays






Arkansas St.


Arkansas St.


Kent St.


Kent St.

Utah St.











Oregon St.


Oregon St.





South Carolina










Louisiana Tech

Southern Miss.


Southern Miss.





Virginia Tech

North Carolina


North Carolina







Iowa St.

Texas Tech


Texas Tech
















Kansas City


Kansas City

N.Y. Giants


















Green Bay




LA Rams


















New England

N.Y. Jets


N.Y. Jets



Money Line Parlays


All 3-game parlays 







Penn St.



Western Ky.







North Carolina

Virginia Tech

Western Mich.

Eastern Mich.


Boise St.










South Carolina


Georgia Southern

Coastal Carolina


Davey19 Experimental Picks


Margins Plays




Kent St.



Boise St.







South Carolina


North Carolina

Va Tech









Green Bay



San Francisco


LA Chargers




Totals Plays










Georgia Tech

Miami (Fla.)



Florida St.

Wake Forest



North Carolina

Virginia Tech




LA Chargers

























August 19, 2018

2018 Southeastern Conference Preview

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 2:38 pm

Note: The preseason ratings you see in the previews may not be the same as the ratings you see for the first game. We update every team’s rating based on player injuries, changes to the depth charts, and other factors that may change during preseason practice.
Our Power 5 Conference preseason ratings and won-loss predictions were figured before knowing the outcome of recent suspensions to Coaches Urban Meyer and D.J. Durkin at Ohio State and Maryland. Because our ratings set 100.0 as average, and the mean of all 130 teams must be 100.0, taking points away from Ohio State and Maryland require redistributing points to the other 128 teams. Expect these ratings to change prior to August 25.

There is an old saying that the three toughest conferences in football are the NFC, the AFC, and the SEC. The Southeastern Conference is the big dog of college football. It is followed by zealots who treat it like a religion. The fans know more about an incoming freshman than most businesses know about new employees. Some fans basically take off from work on Wednesday to take their RVs on the road for a Saturday game. Tailgating in the SEC could be a regular TV program on the Food Network. SEC Football is one of the most successful industries in the world!



In an effort to show you a little more about how the PiRate Ratings are made, we are going to reveal one of the pre-season rating scores we apply to each team. We will show you the scores of each unit on the 14 teams. These include, the Offensive Line, Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Defensive Line, Linebackers, Defensive Backs, and Special Teams. This does not make up the entire rating. This is just one look at each team, but it is the one you don’t need to understand any advanced analytics to fully understand and appreciate.

Each unit is graded on a scale of 60-100 at the FBS level. The grades are 95% mechanical and could be performed by anybody that has the key to how the mechanical grading is made. The other 5% is a minor adjustment based on the players’ original recruiting rankings, which sometimes can predict a player to improve by more than another.
These scores look like school grades, but in this system, the difference between 70 and 90 is much less than the difference in test grades in schools. The difference in a 90 offensive line and a 70 offensive line can be as little as 3-4 points of PiRate Rating.

We take these grades and assign a weighting to the units. Obviously the quarterback is much more important than the long snapper. We add or subtract points based on depth, coaching changes, and other intangibles to come up with one part of the three PiRate Ratings. Each PiRate Rating has 5 to 7 different systems that measure talent and coaching of the 130 teams, which is why it takes basically 130 days to rate 130 teams. We start as soon as a team wraps up Spring Practice and sends out their Spring Media Guide. Last year’s final rating is the starting point, and all the preseason work presents a plus or minus adjustment to the PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings.

Remember that these rankings include starters and reserves, and these are not Pro football draft ratings; an option quarterback might be rated ahead of a potential 1st round NFL selection, because we are only concerned with how the players affect the college game. Starters count for about 80% and reserves about 20% for each unit, unless the position has co-starters or the starting QB has yet to be named; there is a different algorithm for these instances. Also, these ratings do not include injuries incurred in August practices, so the sad news about Alabama losing outstanding outside linebacker Terrell Lewis is included in their score, but the recent loss of Christopher Allen is not. His injury will be reflected in Alabama’s opening rating against Louisville a week from Tuesday.

About the units: Tight ends are included in both the receivers and offensive line. Running backs are included as part of the receivers. When there is a true blocking fullback, he is part of the offensive line rating and contributes almost nothing to the running back score. If he is used as a receiver like an H-Back, then he is treated the same way as a tight end.

The style of defense factors minimally in the ratings for each unit. A 3-4 linebacker unit will be more important than a 4-2-5, so the linebackers will be given more weight in the algorithm at the end of the ratings’ process.



Quarterback: 80
Receivers: 83
Offensive Line: 82
Running Backs: 91
Defensive Line: 94
Linebackers: 88
Defensive Backs: 93
Special Teams: 86

Outlook: The recovery period for the Gators will be brief. This team quit on the previous staff after narrow losses to LSU and Texas A&M. The defense is better than it played last year, and Mullen brought Todd Grantham with him from Mississippi State, where the Bulldogs were much better defensively than their talent level predicted.
The schedule is almost a dream. Three cupcakes in non-conference play, home games with Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, and South Carolina, and road games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt make nine wins possible and eight wins probable. The Gators aren’t ready to challenge Georgia for the East Division championship, but they figure to compete for number two in Mullen’s first year back at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The Captain Says: 5-3 in the conference and 8-4 overall

Quarterback: 89
Receivers: 91
Offensive Line: 96
Running Backs: 97
Defensive Line: 93
Linebackers: 91
Defensive Backs: 94
Special Teams: 95

Outlook: Normally, a team that lost as much as Georgia lost on defense would be expected to fall back by at least two wins if not more. Also, when a team that lost first and second round-drafted running backs, the offense lost might decline enough to cost the team another win. That is far from the case with Georgia. With potential future All-American Jake Fromm returning at quarterback after an incredible freshman year that saw him finish a close second in passing efficiency, Fromm should top 3,000 yards passing behind a top-notch offensive line. The defense returns more than enough talent to keep holding opponents to around 17 points per game, and the schedule gives the Bulldogs a chance to run the table to the SEC Championship Game.

The Captain Says: 7-1 in the SEC and 11-1 overall and berth in SEC Championship Game

Quarterback: 77
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 82
Running Backs: 92
Defensive Line: 78
Linebackers: 90
Defensive Backs: 90
Special Teams: 84

Outlook: Mark Stoops has slowly increased the talent level in Lexington to the point where the Wildcats are just a little behind the teams competing for second place. Close losses to Florida and Ole Miss kept Kentucky from playing in the Outback or Gator Bowl last year. Depth concerns will hurt this team, just like it did last year, when the Wildcats ran out of gas following a 5-1 start.

The Captain Says: 2-6 in the SEC and 5-7 overall

Quarterback: 94
Receivers: 89
Offensive Line: 94
Running Backs: 92
Defensive Line: 85
Linebackers: 86
Defensive Backs: 77
Special Teams: 93

Outlook: Missouri will go as far as the passing game takes them. Drew Lock had a 202.9 passer efficiency ratings in the 7 wins, all against teams with losing records or an FCS member. His efficiency rating fell to 124.9 in the six losses, all to teams that played in bowls. The Tigers might win a game or two with their special teams.

The Captain Says: 3-5 in the SEC and 7-5 overall

South Carolina
Quarterback: 85
Receivers: 94
Offensive Line: 84
Running Backs: 84
Defensive Line: 86
Linebackers: 88
Defensive Backs: 88
Special Teams: 93

Outlook: Will Muschamp has this team in contention for second place in the East, but the Gamecocks do not have a strong enough offensive or defensive line to compete with the Georgia’s and Alabama’s in this conference. South Carolina rarely dominates the stat box.

They were outgained by 258 yards in a season-opening win over North Carolina State, by 64 yards the following week in a win over Missouri, and by 54 yards in a win over Vanderbilt. Expect a better yardage output this year, but the Gamecocks are not likely to be +11 in turnovers, so the final outcome should be about the same.

The Captain Says: 5-3 in the SEC and 8-4 overall

Quarterback: 81
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 76
Running Backs: 79
Defensive Line: 80
Linebackers: 86
Defensive Backs: 83
Special Teams: 89

Outlook: Tennessee last competed for the SEC Championship in 2007. Derek Dooley and Butch Jones failed to make this program great again, and now the job is in the hands of Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt is a tough disciplinarian with the ability to teach kindergarten, a rare combination. He’s also a top-notch recruiter, so it is only a matter of time before the talent level moves upward. 2018 will be a tough introduction to the head coaching world.

The Vols have decent talent on the defensive side of the ball, not enough to make noise in the SEC, but enough to win a couple times in the league and to lose games by fewer points. It’s up to the offense to move the ball and keep the defense off the field, and we don’t think the offense is up to the task.

The Captain says: 3-5 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Quarterback: 83
Receivers: 80
Offensive Line: 81
Running Backs: 74
Defensive Line: 76
Linebackers: 75
Defensive Backs: 81
Special Teams: 82

Outlook: Derek Mason’s defensive Midas Touch turned from gold to balsa wood last year. Coming off a bowl season, the Commodores were expected to compete for another in 2017. A 3-0 start looked like Vanderbilt might have been on its way to its third 8-win regular season of the decade. Three tough games with Alabama, Florida, and Georgia left the team battered and bruised, and the Commodore ship took on too much water. That great defense gave up 505 yards and 46 points per game in the seven conference losses.

The Commodores lost seven starters off that defense, and the 2018 edition could be a little weaker. The offense could not run the ball in SEC play, averaging just 79 yards per game in the seven losses.

The Captain Says: 1-7 in the SEC and 4-8 overall

Quarterback: 96
Receivers: 86
Offensive Line: 96
Running Backs: 99
Defensive Line: 96
Linebackers: 95
Defensive Backs: 93
Special Teams: 89

Outlook: For anybody else in the league, maybe including Georgia, when a team lost as much talent as the Tide, they would be picked to drop from the national championship to maybe 9-3. When a team plugs new All-Americans into the lineup to replace those that just left, the only thing that changes are the names in the program.

Make no mistake about it: Alabama could be vulnerable against an excellent mobile quarterback that can evade the pass rush and find an open receiver (isn’t everybody vulnerable in this case). The Johnny Manziel, Deshaun Watson, and Chad Kelly type beat other Alabama defenses, so this could be the case in 2018. Who on the schedule has this type of quarterback with an offensive line that can protect him, and with receivers that can get open and pick up big yards? Well, they aren’t officially on the schedule, as least not until game number 15–Clemson.

The Captain says: 8-0 in the SEC and 12-0 overall and berth in SEC Championship Game
Quarterback: 78
Receivers: 81
Offensive Line: 82
Running Backs: 87
Defensive Line: 79
Linebackers: 83
Defensive Backs: 79
Special Teams: 91

Outlook: The Bret Bielema era is over in Fayetteville, and grocers and restaurant owners are in mourning. Chad Morris brings his spread offense where the Razorbacks have been a pro-style power team in recent years. The talent level on both sides of the ball has fallen below the top teams in the league, and Arkansas is about on par with Kentucky in the other division. The two quarterbacks competing for the starting nod, Ty Storey and Cole Kelley, are both pro-style quarterbacks not necessarily equipped to run the Morris offense. The defense lacks a lot of quality talent, but new coordinator John Chavis will get more out of this unit than last year’s showing.

The Captain says: 2-6 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Quarterback: 92
Receivers: 90
Offensive Line: 83
Running Backs: 87
Defensive Line: 94
Linebackers: 91
Defensive Backs: 92
Special Teams: 87

Outlook: Auburn has the talent to win the SEC Championship, but the schedule will prevent the Tigers from doing so. The Tigers must play the two division favorites plus dark horse Mississippi State on the road, and we wouldn’t pick the Cam Newton Auburn team to win all three games.
This could be the year where Auburn passes the ball for more than 250 yards per game. Jarrett Stidham has a stable full of race horse receivers and an offensive line that may be better at pass blocking than run blocking. The defense is still quite strong, so Auburn will compete in every game; it’s just that they will lose some close ones away from Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Captain says: 6-2 in the SEC and 9-3 overall

Quarterback: 78
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 85
Running Backs: 80
Defensive Line: 90
Linebackers: 92
Defensive Backs: 94
Special Teams: 87

Outlook: On paper, this might look like a team that is in danger of falling down to the bottom of the division. But, the Tigers still have a lot of talent, especially on defense, where it would not surprise us if LSU gives up less than 300 yards per game this year.

The offense looked to be a large negative with so much talent lost, but a little bird told us that recent Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow is wowing the coaches in Baton Rouge. Since his arrival post Spring ball, two of the three quarterbacks expected to contend for a starting spot have transferred. Burrow had a 153.1 passer rating in very limited action with the Buckeyes. He has an accurate arm and plays with poise, but he has minimal game experience and dumped the ball to his backs even when he had open receivers downfield.

The Captain says: 3-5 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Quarterback: 81
Receivers: 96
Offensive Line: 88
Running Backs: 80
Defensive Line: 84
Linebackers: 79
Defensive Backs: 94
Special Teams: 89

Outlook: Matt Luke should have been given a special award for keeping the Ole Miss team together and bringing normalcy back to the program. Old-timers like us see a lot of John Vaught in his ability to lead a team and play an open style of offense. Ole Miss is still on probation with a bowl-ban, and it will likely cost this team a bowl game for the second consecutive season, because the Rebels can pass the ball and defend the pass well enough to win half of their games.

Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu was quite effective when he finally took over as the starter. In the final five games, his 167.3 passer rating was the best in the league over the time period, and he averaged 321 yards per game in that stretch. Of course, it is a lot easier to have great passing stats when your receiving corps is more talented than three or four NFL teams. A.J. Brown might be a leading Heisman Trophy contender if he played for Notre Dame, Oklahoma, or USC.

The Captain says: 2-6 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Mississippi St.
Quarterback: 91
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 92
Running Backs: 90
Defensive Line: 93
Linebackers: 82
Defensive Backs: 90
Special Teams: 81

Outlook: Joe Moorhead comes to Starkville at the perfect time. He inherits all the pieces he needs to run a potent offense and play aggressive, smart defense. Except for the Alabama game, the Bulldogs can compete in the other 11. If Moorhead and defensive coordinator Bob Shoop can get improved play from the linebackers, and a couple of serviceable receivers can come forth to help take the heat off the running game, State could make a run at an 11-win season.

All this comes with a major caveat. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald must be 100% healthy and able to do the same thing this year that he did prior to the injury last year. If he stays healthy for 12 games, then State should have two, 1000-yard rushers.

The Captain says: 5-3 in the SEC and 9-3 overall

Texas A&M
Quarterback: 84
Receivers: 83
Offensive Line: 84
Running Backs: 86
Defensive Line: 88
Linebackers: 91
Defensive Backs: 85
Special Teams: 93

Outlook: Jimbo Fisher figures to make a lot of changes in year one compared to how Kevin Sumlin ran the team. The offense will go from a spread passing game to a pro-style with more power running. Fisher is a great mentor of quarterbacks, but as of this writing, the starter for 2018 has not been decided. NIck Starkel is the better passer, while Kellen Mond adds a running aspect that Starkel does not have.

The Aggies are solid at all positions but not spectacular at any. They have experience at linebacker with Tyrel Dodson and Otaro Alaka back after combining for 182 tackles with 22 for loss and 11 sacks.

The Captain says: 4-4 in the SEC and 7-5 overall

Here is how the SEC Media voted in the preseason poll

East 1st Place Points
Georgia 271 1977
South Carolina 8 1535
Florida 4 1441
Missouri 0 1057
Kentucky 1 874
Tennessee 1 704
Vanderbilt 0 392
West 1st Place Points
Alabama 263 1971
Auburn 19 1664
Mississippi St. 2 1239
Texas A&M 0 1091
LSU 0 1025
Ole Miss 0 578
Arkansas 0 412

The PiRate Ratings differ minimally

Southeastern Conference
East Division
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Georgia 0-0 0-0 130.9 126.3 132.4 129.8
Missouri 0-0 0-0 114.4 112.7 116.0 114.3
S. Carolina 0-0 0-0 112.9 111.7 112.2 112.3
Florida 0-0 0-0 112.9 110.6 113.3 112.2
Kentucky 0-0 0-0 106.8 105.3 106.3 106.1
Tennessee 0-0 0-0 98.8 99.5 98.4 98.9
Vanderbilt 0-0 0-0 96.8 97.5 96.2 96.9
West Division
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 0-0 0-0 132.0 129.3 133.8 131.7
Auburn 0-0 0-0 122.0 121.2 124.4 122.5
Mississippi St. 0-0 0-0 122.5 119.2 122.7 121.5
L S U 0-0 0-0 110.1 110.3 110.7 110.4
Texas A&M 0-0 0-0 110.7 109.6 110.7 110.3
Arkansas 0-0 0-0 109.3 106.4 107.6 107.8
Ole Miss 0-0 0-0 105.3 105.1 106.1 105.5
SEC Averages 113.2 111.8 113.6 112.9

New Coaches
Dan Mullen isn’t a new coach to the league, but he is a new head coach at Florida. Mullen has a storied history with his new team. He tutored Tim Tebow during the Urban Meyer years when Florida won two national championships. He left Mississippi State stocked with incredible talent, and his recruiting efforts in Gainesville will quickly bring the Gators back to prominence.
Jeremy Pruitt has an incredible resume as a defensive genius, and he takes over a Tennessee team that did not play a lot of defense in recent years. Pruitt has produced top defenses at Georgia, Florida State, and Alabama, and he comes to Knoxville with multiple championship rings. His recruiting strengths in the Deep South should give the Volunteers a decent chance of returning to glory, but not for a few years.

Arkansas welcomes Chad Morris to Fayetteville after he turned the SMU program back into a bowl team. Morris brings his up-tempo,spread offense to the SEC West, where it has worked just fine at Auburn. The style is a complete contrast to former coach Bret Bielema’s power offense. Morris previously was offensive coordinator at Clemson and helped develop Deshaun Watson into a star.
Joe Moorhead takes over for Mullen at Mississippi State. Moorhead most recently was offensive coordinator for Penn State, where his offenses took off the last two years. He was the head coach of the Fordham Rams from 2012 to 2015, taking the Rams to three consecutive FCS Playoffs.

Jimbo Fisher takes over at Texas A&M after a brilliant career at Florida State, first as a coach-in-waiting under Bobby Bowden, and then as a national championship-winning head coach. His previous SEC experience included six years as quarterback coach under Tommy Tuberville at Auburn.

Predicted Won-Loss Records
Note: These predicted won-loss records are strictly mechanical based on the initial PiRate Ratings. No upsets are factored in these predictions. Additionally, our PiRate Ratings are only useful for the next week of games and cannot really be used to forecast past that point. Part of our weekly adjustment to our ratings includes a factor where depth issues or non-issues have been pre-set. In other words, a team without talented second stringers may lose ratings points as the season progresses even if they win games by the predicted margin, whereas a team with exceptional depth (like Alabama) will improve during the season and see its rating rise even if they win games by a little less than the predicted margin. Ohio State and Maryland could see their ratings change by large amounts depending on the outcome of the two coaching investigations.  The predicted won-loss records in the team capsules are more realistic.

Team Conference Overall
Georgia 8-0 12-1
Florida 6-2 9-3
South Carolina 6-2 9-3
Missouri 4-4 8-4
Kentucky 2-6 5-7
Vanderbilt 1-7 4-8
Tennessee 0-8 3-9
Alabama 8-0 13-0 *
Mississippi St. 7-1 11-1
Auburn 5-3 8-4
Texas A&M 4-4 7-5
Arkansas 3-5 7-5
Ole Miss 1-7 5-7
LSU 1-7 4-8

Bowl Tie-ins
1. Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA
2. Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL
3. Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL
3. Texas Bowl in Houston, TX
3. Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL
3. Belk Bowl in Charlotte, NC
3. Liberty Bowl in Memphis, TN
3. Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN
9. Independence Bowl in Shreveport, LA
9. Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, AL

Coming Tuesday–The PiRate Ratings return to the in-season format. Our first ratings for the pre-week one schedule debut for the 2018 season. A couple of early games begin the college football season on Saturday, August 25.

November 9, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for November 9-11, 2017

The Captain has regained control of the helm, and he is steering the PiRate ship once again.  Actually, the lasses suffered a loss last week, and they were too shy to come up with any parlays this week.  The Captain on short notice was only able to create two parlays, as he believes this may be a week to look at other wagering philosophies with several key games being played.

If you are new to this site, this weekly feature picks money line parlays that go off at better than +120 odds.  As a general rule, we look for 3-game parlays, but in some cases (like today), we will combine four or more games, and in fact, we once issued a 7-game parlay at +225 odds and won the wager.

Here are this week’s two parlay selections.  As always, consider this when deciding how you will make use of this publication: No PiRate booty has been jeopardized in the making of this feature.  We only play with pretend currency when selecting our parlays.

#1 @ +170  
Must Win Must Lose
Northwestern Purdue
South Carolina Florida
Southern Miss. Rice
#2 @ +157  
Must Win Must Lose
Pittsburgh North Carolina
Florida Int’l. Old Dominion
Missouri Tennessee
Middle Tenn. Charlotte



October 26, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for October 26-28, 2017

Oh brother!  I leave my ladies in charge of the website for a few days, and when I return from a nice long weekend, they have rearranged all the e-furniture.  Worse, they exchanged the Money Line picks I had left with their own, and they actually enjoyed a winning week.  They issued four selections (totally different than what I had left to be published), and they won two of the four for a return on investment of 28%.

Believe me, I have not heard the end of this.  Mrs. Captain, of course, sided with her gender, and so this week, I must defer to the ladies to pick the parlays yet again.  All I have done is to organize their picks into the best possible parlay odds by sourcing the best odds from the available books.  What you have as a result are four more parlays, each returning greater than +120 odds (actually this week better than +150) while playing no more than three games per parlay.

Because the ladies selected to teams to win outright as underdogs, and to minimize risk, I have combined these two underdogs in one parlay that, if it wins, it would return an incredible payoff at +375 (a $100 investment would return $475).

One preface to this before you look at the parlays.  Two of the ladies here bleed scarlet and gray and believe that the Giant Horseshoe is a basilica, tabernacle, shrine, and temple.  They believe that script Ohio is akin to the holy scriptures.  Their key pick this week is Ohio State over Penn State, and to add to their partiality, they refer to the opponent at State Pen, and they believe James Franklin was set on Earth by Lucifer.

Personally, I see the Buckeyes ready to get their revenge, but I know Coach Franklin and have seen him work miracles at Vanderbilt.  If he could win at Georgia and Florida as a bigger underdog than his Nittany Lions will be tomorrow, then he can certainly channel his inner Tom Lasorda and get his team ready to run through the walls at said horseshoe.  I would not have selected this game as part of a parlay, but then I have ceded control of this submission to the lasses.

#1 @ +152  
Must Win Must Lose
Northern Illinois
Eastern Michigan
Appalachian St. Marshall
Georgia Florida
#2 @ +162  
Must Win Must Lose
South Carolina Vanderbilt
Notre Dame NC State
Texas Baylor
#3 @ +152  
Must Win Must Lose
SMU Tulsa
Iowa Minnesota
Ohio St. Penn St.
#4 @ +375  
Must Win Must Lose
Northwestern Michigan St.
Wyoming New Mexico

Money Line Parlay Tutorial for newcomers to this site

If you are new to Money Lines and Parlays, hopefully this will explain it well enough for you to understand what is going on above.

When two sports teams play, the more familiar way to provide options for wagering is a pointspread.  For instance, say that Notre Dame is playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.  Alabama might be favored to win by 6 1/2 points.  In order for Alabama to win the game for those that bet on the Crimson Tide, they would have to win by 7 or more points.  If Notre Dame won or lost by 6 points or less, then those that wagered on Notre Dame would win their bets.

There is another way to bet on this game.  It is called the “Money Line.”  Pointspreads are not used.  Instead, you simply pick either Alabama or Notre Dame to win the game.  If you can bet on Alabama to win this game, even by one point, it sounds too good to be true.  Yes, there is a catch here.  In order to bet on Alabama, you must put up more money than the sports book, but if you bet on the underdog Irish to win the game, the book puts up more money than you.  This is why the wager is called a “money line.”

When you look at money line odds, the favorite will have a minus number, and the underdog will have a plus number, although there are times when a tossup game will have two minus numbers.  The reason for this is that the sports books must get their cut or vigorish.

Let’s look at a couple games to be played tonight.  Northern Illinois hosts Eastern Michigan, and NIU is a modest favorite.  The Money Line is available at about 15 sports books where one could make a wager in one’s home via the Internet.  The line may vary from site to sire, so it is best to shop around to find the best odds.

For our purposes in this tutorial, we will use one famous online sports book, Five Dimes.  At the present time, the Money Line odds at 5D for the NIU-EMU game is listed at:   Northern Illinois -275, Eastern Michigan +235.

If you want to wager on NIU, you must put up $275 for every $100 5 Dimes puts up.  If you wager $100 on NIU to win, you will $36.36 profit and receive back $136.36 if NIU wins, and you will be out $100 if they lose.  If you wager $100 on EMU to win, you will receive $275 profit and receive back $375 if EMU wins, and you will be out $100 if they lose.

When you combine two or more games into one money line wager, your odds improve, but your chances of winning all the games in the one wager go down.  Let’s say you want to combine three favorites into one betting wager.  Let’s say you are going to play a parlay that includes Favorite #1 at -250, Favorite #2 at -225, and Favorite #3 at -180.

How do yo determine what the odds would be on this parlay of three favorites, all of whom would have to win their games for you to win your wager?  I won’t bore you with the mathematical formula.  There is an easy way to figure the odds, and it is called a parlay calculator.  You don’t have to buy this from a Las Vegas book store.  They are available for free in many places online.  In our opinion, the parlay calculator at is the easiest one to use.  You can find this calculator at:

First, we select $100 for the bet amount (you can put any other amount in this spot, but all of the PiRate Rating parlays are played at $100 per wager.  We simply input -250, -225-, and -180 adjacent to Team #1 Money Line, Team #2 Money Line, and Team #3 Money Line.  Then we click on “Calculate”, and we see the number $214.57 returned.  This means that if these three favorites we have selected all win their games, we will make a $214.57 profit and receive $314.57 in our account (The profit plus what we wagered).  If the three teams do not all win their games, we will be out the $100 we invested on this game.  It can be a headache to see two teams win their games, and then your final favored team loses in an upset due to a fourth quarter field goal, but it happens, and you have to live with it.

Our goal at the PiRate Ratings is to select parlays that return better than +120 odds, while betting mostly on favored teams.  We prefer to play no more than three games in a parlay, but there are times when we might play 6 or 7 prohibitive favorites when the odds look preferable.  We won a 7-team parlay once that returned +200 odds, and all 7 teams won by double-digits.  Of course, this is a rare event.  Every week, some big underdog will upset a favorite.  In recent weeks, we had some considerable underdogs pulling off big upsets.  Syracuse surprised Clemson.  Arizona State beat up on Washington, Arizona took out Washington State, Tulsa whipped Houston, Iowa State beat Oklahoma, and Troy beat LSU.  These sure things that could have been included on parlays destroyed the selections.

As usual, read this and understand it: The PiRates never wager real currency on our selections.  We enjoy the fun that mathematics married to athletics brings a group of math geeks.  We only wager imaginary money on these games, and thus we have no worries about issuing these picks.  They are strictly for the fun of it, and enjoying a winning week is a win for mathematics and not our bank accounts.

Enjoy the games, but be just as wealthy on Sunday morning as you are on Saturday morning.


October 12, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for October 12-14, 2017

Ouch!  We took it on the chin and everywhere else last week, as all four of our parlays went down in flames.  It wasn’t even close, as we were 0-4 quite quickly.

About all we accomplished in the last two weeks is that we now have two of our followers experimenting with their own formulas.  One is using IF bets, while the other is going with single games.  Neither of them accomplished what they hoped so far, but both are mathematically sound.  The issue is that there is a bit more parity in football this season, and the teams that you and we just know will win for sure go off at Money Line odds of -1000 or worse.  If you are totally sure that Ohio State will beat Nebraska, Mississippi State will beat BYU, Alabama will beat Arkansas, Oklahoma State will beat Baylor, Georgia will beat Missouri, South Florida will beat Cincinnati, Clemson will beat Syracuse, and Iowa State will beat Kansas, you can put down a wager on this parlay and feel about 85% confident you will win this wager.  And guess what you will receive for every $1 you wager on this “sure thing”?  If you bet $1 and win, you will receive $1.35 in winnings, which includes your original buck invested.  Yes, it would be a 35% return on your investment, and even Warren Buffett and Seth Klarman would accept a 35% ROI over 3 days in the investment.  But, they would still hold off on this one, because the Margin of Safety would not be there, and the chances of losing all of the investment would outweigh the chance to make a 35% profit in 3 days.

This week our little ship of buccaneers and queens of the sea were not in agreement on many supposed sure-thing winners that would allow us to construct parlays with odds of +120 or better.  We only came up with two parlays, one of which forced us to go four-deep in games.  We are in the hole a bit too much to risk additional funds on games we do not all believe can win.

We almost made a decision to double our investment on this week’s games, but the Captain warned us that doubling down almost always ballooned into something out of control.  If you lose $100 this week, bet $200 next week; if you lose again, then bet $400 the next week; then $800, $1,600, $3,200, etc.  If you get on a really cold streak, soon you are betting your house and car, and your family, and your kidney, etc.  So, we stick with equal unit wagers on all games.

REMEMBER THIS: We are playing with imaginary currency.  So, we actually could double down, because $200 of fake dough is equal to $100 of fake dough.  We do know that a large number of you reading this use the real stuff, so we are going to approach this weekly feature as if it was real.  Also, there are more than one of you that have told us that you modify our selections and our Ratings’ Spreads and actually do quite well with the data.  One of you has even told us about how you have been ultra successful, but we did not press this issue in order for you to keep your method private.  Any method that really works quickly doesn’t work once the world discovers the secret, because the odds then change, making the system worthless.

Here are our picks for this week.  We hope they are a tad better than worthless, but we have our doubts.

#1@ +170  
Must Win Must Lose
UL-Lafayette Texas St.
South Carolina Tennessee
San Diego St. Boise St.


#2 @ +137  
Must Win Must Lose
Miami (O) Kent St.
Temple Connecticut
Tulane Florida Int’l.
Houston Tulsa


August 23, 2017

2017 Southeastern Conference Preview

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:54 am

The old adage goes that a southern gentleman’s three favorite professional sports leagues are, the NFC, the AFC, and the SEC.  Others see SEC football as a religion, and whoever is the head coach at Alabama, as the reigning Moses with direct communication to the Great Bear in the Sky.

For those that have not followed college football more than a few years, this league has been around for almost 85 years, but even before then, the league members were “killing it” on the gridiron.  As far back as 1904, the Crimson Tide played excellent footbal, and under Hall of Fame Coach Wallace Wade, the 1925 Alabama football team won the Southern Conference, the Rose Bowl, and finished 10-0 as the nation’s best team.

What is the top annual college football award? Easy: it’s the Heisman Trophy, named for John Heisman.  Heisman coached at two different schools that would become charter members of the SEC–Georgia Tech and Auburn.

General Robert Neyland led Tennessee from 1926 to 1952 with a couple of breaks to serve in the military.  Neyland was considered the best defensive coach in the history of the game, and one of his Volunteer teams shut out every opponent on the schedule.  Even at what is considered the bottom feeder programs of the league, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, both schools have pasts where they were not only great, they were the best in the nation.  Bear Bryant guided the 1950 Wildcats to an 11-1 season and major upset victory over number one Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.  Dan McGugin led the Commodores from 1904 to 1934, finishing with a record of 197-55-19 and winning multiple national championships at Vandy (retroactively according to recognized computer polls).  So, when you see the 14 SEC teams fighting it out week after week this year and think that they all of a sudden became the behemoths of the college football world, recall that this is not a new phenomenon.  The SEC is as storied as Major League Baseball.

2017 figures to be another great year in this league with four or five teams capable of making the Playoffs.  It is higher than an average chance that this season could see two SEC teams making the Playoffs.

Here is how the SEC Media voted in the preseason.

SEC East Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Georgia 138 1,572 6
2 Florida 96 1,526 3
3 Tennessee 3 998 0
4 South Carolina 5 897 1
5 Kentucky 0 869 0
6 Vanderbilt 1 554 1
7 Missouri 0 388 0
SEC West Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Alabama 225 1,683 217
2 Auburn 13 1,329 11
3 LSU 4 1,262 3
4 Arkansas 1 796 1
5 Texas A&M 0 722 0
6 Mississippi St. 0 633 0
7 Ole Miss 0 379 0

The PiRate Ratings are a tad different, but you can see there are several highly-regarded teams, as all 14 teams rate above 100.0.

Southeastern Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Georgia 116.3 117.6 116.4 116.8
Florida 115.3 114.6 114.6 114.8
Kentucky 111.7 110.2 111.2 111.0
Tennessee 111.4 109.6 109.5 110.2
Vanderbilt 110.2 108.5 109.2 109.3
S. Carolina 106.4 106.1 105.6 106.0
Missouri 104.7 101.3 103.4 103.1
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 133.4 128.6 132.4 131.5
Auburn 124.0 121.9 123.9 123.3
L S U 120.3 118.5 121.0 119.9
Arkansas 109.5 109.1 109.5 109.4
Ole Miss 107.6 106.2 106.0 106.6
Texas A&M 107.6 105.2 106.2 106.3
Mississippi St. 104.4 105.1 104.6 104.7
SEC Averages 113.1 111.6 112.4 112.4

And, take a look at our unscientific won-loss predictions and bowl projections.  You will notce that we believe there will be a surprise this year.

Southeastern Conference Projected Standings
East Division
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Georgia 6-2 10-3 Orange
Florida 6-2 8-4 Taxslayer
Kentucky 5-3 9-3 Outback
Tennessee 4-4 7-5 Belk
Vanderbilt 3-5 7-5 Music City
South Carolina 3-5 5-7  
Missouri 1-7 5-7  
West Division
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Auburn 7-1 12-1 PLAYOFFS
Alabama 7-1 11-1 PLAYOFFS
LSU 5-3 9-3 Citrus
Arkansas 3-5 7-5 Texas
Texas A&M 3-5 6-6 Liberty
Mississippi St. 2-6 6-6 Birmingham
Ole Miss 1-7 5-7  
Auburn to win SEC Championship Game

What the PiRate Ratings think at the start of this season:  Yes, you see that correctly above!  We have Alabama rated number one in the nation to begin the season, but we have Auburn picked as the SEC West Champion.  The two rivals play in Auburn this year, and our preseason belief is that Alabama will enter that game 11-0, while Auburn is 10-1.  We then show Auburn winning the game to take the West Division, while Alabama finished second with an 11-1 record, probably falling to third in the playoff seeding.

Then, we show Auburn winning the SEC Championship, earning the number two playoff seed.  You will see tomorrow that we have only one team picked to go undefeated, and that will be Ohio State (or in other words the winner of the Ohio State-Penn State game).  We previously showed you that we believe USC at 10-2 will knock off 12-0 Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

We then foresee USC sneaking into the #4 seed in the Playoffs, with Ohio State the top-seed.  Do you know what would happen if the seeding goes Ohio State, Auburn, Alabama, and USC?  The rules for the playoff state that the overall number one seed must have the bowl site advantage over the number four seed.  Since the two playoff semifinal games are the Rose and Sugar Bowls, Ohio State could not possibly play USC in the Rose Bowl.  It would make for a very interesting Sugar Bowl matchup between the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions.

But, then look what the Rose Bowl would get.  How about the crazy rematch of Alabama and Auburn in the Rose Bowl?  Can you imagine the insanity of a week in the L.A. area between the fans of the two schools?  In addition, the City of Angels likes its epic productions, and this would be the Rose Bowl for the ages.  Imagine the Tournament of Roses Parade with all the crimson and white and burnt orange and navy.  Yea, Alabama versus War Eagle.  Los Angeles hasn’t seen anything like this since Cecile B. Demille last made movies–the 10 Commandments of Football become the Greatest Show on Earth!


Coming tomorrow: It’s here.  The college football season kicks off Saturday, and we will commence with our regular weekly format.  This is our plan for 2017.

1. A weekly college forecast with our PiRate, Mean, and Bias ratings for all 130 FBS teams, and our spreads for the week’s games.

2. A weekly NFL forecast with the same ratings and spreads

3. A weekly Money Line Parlay edition in which we attempt to go for a third consecutive year where we make a large return on investment (just for fun, as we do not wager actual money on games).4. Returning this year on Friday afternoons: During the last three years, we have been a little too busy to devote time to the retro-football league that we enjoyed performing.  Many of you have asked about this in this time, and we are happy to announce it is coming back.

Many of you reading this may know that Sports Illustrated and Avalon Hill put out a couple of excellent and fun tabletop football games several decades ago.  The college version was called, “Bowl Bound,” and the NFL version was called, “Paydirt.”  The games are no longer made, but many football and math lovers have continued making the teams for this game.  The codes were not that hard to crack, and actually, some of the more advanced analytics experts were able to improve on these games.  What we will use for our recreations is an advanced version of this game.  The teams have updated charts to more closely match what these teams’ results.  We must admit that the originator of these games did not have access to an Internet that did not exist.  Enough information is out there to more accurately estimate a teams’ strengths and weaknesses and then to normalize it so that an average team in 1950 and an average team in 1975 should approach a mean score of 21-21 with both teams winning 50 of 100 games.

Thus, if a team is 12 points better than average in 1950, they are as strong as a team that is 12 points better than average in 1975.

This is how it will work this year.

A. We are using 14 NFL teams from the period between 1950 and 1975, using the rules and schedule of 1965.  Kickoffs will be from the 40 yard line; the goalposts will be on the goal lines and not on the end lines (shouldn’t they be called end posts now?); there will be no 10-yard penalties.  Holding and other current 10-yard penalties will be 15-yard penalties like in the “good ole days;” there will be no overtime for regular season games.

B. We are also using the 10 AFL teams from the period between 1960 and 1975, using the rules, and the schedule from the 1968 season.

C. There will be an NFL Championship Game and AFL Championship Game and then a Super Bowl between the two champions.

Here are the 24 teams that will be used for this event.

NFL East

Cleveland 1950

Dallas 1971

NY Giants 1959

Philadelphia 1960

Pittsburgh 1975

St. Louis 1975

Washington 1972

NFL West

Baltimore 1958

Chicago 1963

Detroit 1954

Green Bay 1962

Los Angeles 1967

Minnesota 1975

San Francisco 1970

AFL East

Boston 1964

Buffalo 1964

Houston 1961

Miami 1972

NY Jets 1968

AFL West

Cincinnati 1973

Denver 1973

Kansas City 1969

Oakland 1967

San Diego 1963

The games will be played using a computer-assisted play-calling system based on the tendencies of the teams in question.  For instance, Miami will have more fullback power runs inside the tackles.  Minnesota will feature more passes with the quarterback moving out of the pocket.  The NY Jets and Oakland will feature more of a vertical passing game, while Cincinnati relies more on the precursor to the West Coast Offense.  On defense, teams like the Rams will be tough to run on and trouble for quarterbacks without strong offensive lines.

The teams will play a 14-game regular season schedule with the champions of each division only making the playoffs–no wildcard teams.

March 31, 2017

PiRate Ratings Final Four Preview

PiRate Red-White-Blue Ratings

Saturday, April 1
Team Team Red White Blue
Gonzaga South Carolina 9 9 5
North Carolina Oregon 3 3 2

Tipoff Times

Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
Saturday, April 1
6:09 PM CBS Gonzaga vs. South Carolina
8:49 PM CBS North Carolina vs. Oregon

The Official Statistics 

Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 37 1100 2162 269 711 611 851 356 1141 1497 422 260 3080
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 37 824 2260 212 723 394 598 401 828 1229 463 195 2254
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
South Carolina 36 898 2132 241 715 595 853 451 857 1308 475 281 2632
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
South Carolina 36 760 1909 199 668 618 855 391 873 1264 620 219 2337
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
North Carolina 38 1175 2492 271 750 608 863 598 1062 1660 458 269 3229
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
North Carolina 38 940 2260 304 894 499 692 343 822 1165 514 242 2683
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Oregon 38 1069 2212 327 854 535 759 400 985 1385 438 248 3000
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Oregon 38 907 2243 265 852 409 568 399 824 1223 504 179 2488

The Four Factors

Gonzaga 57.1 41.2 30.1 26.0 14.1 15.4 23.2 15.1
South Carolina 47.8 45.0 34.1 31.3 15.8 21.1 23.2 24.3
North Carolina 52.6 48.3 42.1 24.4 13.6 16.6 22.0 18.1
Oregon 55.7 46.3 32.7 28.8 14.5 16.7 20.5 15.6

FT* & DFT* use FT/100 Possessions as its metric formula


PiRate Ratings Criteria

Team PPG Def Mar. FG-Marg Reb-Marg TO-Marg R+T* WLRd SOS OPoss DPoss Poss/G
Gonzaga 83.2 60.9 22.3 14.4 7.2 1.1 19.8 21-0 54.36 2632 2606 70.8
South Carolina 73.1 64.9 8.2 2.3 1.2 4.0 10.3 11-7 56.96 2561 2544 70.9
North Carolina 85.0 70.6 14.4 5.6 13.0 1.5 30.7 15-7 59.00 2762 2760 72.7
Oregon 78.9 65.5 13.5 7.9 4.3 1.7 14.8 16-5 56.83 2611 2618 68.8

R+T*: For those of you new to the PiRate Ratings, the R+T rating is our own invention.  It is an attempt to estimate the potential number of points above or below average that a team is capable of scoring due to superior rebounding, forcing and avoiding turnover, and especially getting and avoiding steals, the most punishing of turnovers, as it almost always leads to points and/or fouls.  The number represents the potential points scored against an average team just from the hustle stats.  Thus, at 19.8, Gonzaga could be expected to score 20 points per game against an average team just from their rebounding margin and turnover margin, with an emphasis on steals margin.  The 20 points is figured based on extra scoring opportunities and includes the possibility that fast break shots might be missed and the team might turn the ball over with this added opportunity.

Anything over 15.0 is outstanding, while anything over 25.0 is super and a major contributor to winning a lot of games.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Comparisons

Gonzaga vs. South Carolina

Power Conference: Reason–Since 1985 with the 64 or 68-team tournament, there have been 64 teams in the 32 National Championship Games.  60 of the 64 came from Power Conferences


Advantage–South Carolina, as the WCC is not a power conference, while the SEC is


Strength of Schedule: Reason–All National Champions since SOS records have been kept had SOS’s of 4 points better than average.  

Advantage–Slight to South Carolina.  Both teams qualify here, but USC’s SOS is about 2 1/2 points stronger per game on average.

R+T Rating: Reason–All Champions in since 2000 have had R+T above 10.0

Advantage: Gonzaga has a substantial advantage here, but South Carolina barely qualifies.  The Bulldogs should expect to have the chance to score 10 extra points from R+T Rating, meaning USC will have to make up for this with Field Goal margin.

Scoring Margin: Reason–Almost every team in the NCAA Championship Game throughout the history of the tournament have had scoring margins in excess of 8 points per game, and most had double-digit margins.

Advantage: Gonzaga has a substantial edge here, but USC also qualifies by the skin of their teeth.  Gonzaga’s 20+ scoring margin must be discounted a little due to their schedule, but we can adjust this to about 12 points if the Zags had played in the Pac-12.


Field Goal % Margin: Reason–Over 90% of all title participants have had FG% Margins in excess of 5% and a majority have had margins over 8%.  Teams with double digit margins have dominated title games when the opponent had margins under 5%.  There are exceptions, like 1985 when Villanova upset Georgetown.

Advantage: Major advantage to Gonzaga, as their FG% margin has the look of many of John Wooden’s UCLA teams.  USC does not qualify here with a FG% margin of just 2%.

PiRate Criteria Analysis: Except for conference class, Gonzaga has the look of a dominant national championship team.  However, class is just as important in college basketball as it is in horse racing.  A great horse from a small track that has several smaller stakes wins might have better numbers than the horses that run at Aqueduct and Santa Anita, and most of the time, these horses fail when running in a Grade 1 race.

Gonzaga is not your normal mid-major team.  They are more like Butler when the Bulldogs went to back-to-back title games and UNLV from 1990.  Gonzaga has the talent to win it all.  They have a dominant inside game and an underrated perimeter game.

South Carolina has a lot of heart, and their defense has stepped it up in the tournament.  The Gamecocks looked like this at the start of the season before injuries began to affect the perimeter defense.  Now, USC is fully healthy again, and the players remind us of the Gashouse Gang (The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals World Series Champions).  Opponents feel like they have gone 12 rounds with Joe Louis after 40 minutes of playing against them.

We expect South Carolina to keep this game close for the first 32 minutes or so, but after that Gonzaga’s superior inside strength will take its toll, as both teams tire late and begin to misfire from outside.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Prediction: Gonzaga 69  South Carolina 61


North Carolina vs. Oregon

Power Conference: Advantage–Very slight advantage to North Carolina, as the ACC is the equivalent of the AL East in Major League Baseball.  No Pac-12 team has won the title since Arizona 20 years ago.

Strength of Schedule: Advantage–Slight edge to North Carolina by an average of about 2.2 points per game

R+T Rating: Advantage–North Carolina has the largest R+T Rating in all of Division 1, as they did last year when they came within a second of winning the title.  Oregon’s rating is almost 15, which means the Ducks are exceptional as well, just not as exceptional as UNC.  Also missing 6-10 Chris Boucher in this game should be somewhat important, and the  Tar Heels will have a decided rebounding advantage, a major component of R+T.

Scoring Margin: Advantage–A Push, as both teams have similar numbers.

Field Goal % Margin: Advantage–Oregon has a minor but definite advantage with numbers that look a little more like a Championship Game participant, but teams have won the title with the same margin as the Tar Heels.  

PiRate Criteria Analysis: All during this tournament, we have been concerned about Oregon missing Boucher, thinking that eventually the Duck frontcourt would wear down in the second games of the two previous weekends.  That did not happen, as the Ducks rallied and found another gear.  We are now ready to admit to this mistake.  Oregon can win all the marbles without Boucher.  However, this is the first game where their opponent has the scary frontcourt.  Oregon needs Boucher not because of depth, but because they need a 6-10 bruiser to bang it with Carolina’s titans.

North Carolina’s perimeter play has had the look of a national champion.  The guards stepped up on both sides of the ball late in the games with Arkansas and Kentucky, refusing to end the season.  Remember too that UNC feels slighted for last year.  They had the national championship trophy in grasp until a last second shot moved that trophy over to Villanova’s locker room.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Prediction: North Carolina 85  Oregon 75


4 Interesting Possible National Title Games

You the typical college basketball fan is guaranteed to have a great title game Monday night no matter who wins tomorrow.  Let’s look at each of the four possibilities.


Gonzaga vs. North Carolina:  These are the two teams that looked like the most dominant throughout most of the season.  Earlier in the season, when these teams were playing in tournaments against quality opposition, they won handily, dominating in all facets of the game.  Also, this represents the old guard of UNC against the upstart that has been threatening to get this far for years in Gonzaga.  

Gonzaga vs. Oregon: There has not been an all West Coast National Championship Game before.  Of course, until the age when more than one team per conference going to the Big Dance, it was not possible, as these two teams would have both been in the West Regional.  Still, it would be interesting to have two teams from the Pacific Northwest facing off in the title game.

South Carolina vs. North Carolina: Many of you have not experienced a Dodgers-Yankees or Giants–Yankees World Series.  In our opinion, nothing can beat a Dodgers-Yankees World Series.  This would be an equivalent.  These two teams were both in the ACC for many years until the Gamecocks became an Independent following the 1971 season (when they were the ACC Champions).  Two former South Carolina head coaches, Frank McGuire and Eddie Fogler, had North Carolina ties, and Fogler has been BFFs with Roy Williams for decades.

South Carolina vs. Oregon: A lot of people would find it very interesting if the Seattle Mariners played the Washington Nationals in the World Series.  Not having the Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, or Giants would be a great change of pace.  The Cleveland-Chicago World Series last year did more for Major League Baseball than American Pharoh’s winning the Triple Crown in 2015.  A Gamecock-Duck National Championship Game could make fans of all Division 1 teams from Power Conferences believe their team could do it too.



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