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Elite Selection Playoff (ESP) and the AV Ranking (AVR)

Clashmore Mike has its own version of the BCS. A few years ago staff writer Anthony Pilcher and fellow Notre Dame and college football enthusiast Vince Siciliano created a college football ranking system analogous to the BCS called the Elite Selection Playoff (ESP).

The ESP has three equally weighted parts:

  • The college football AP Poll
  • The USA Today Coaches’ Poll
  • The AV Ranking

The first two parts need no explanation and are the same polls used in the current BCS formula. The third part, however, is unique to Clashmore Mike.

The AV Ranking (AVR) is Clashmore Mike’s own college football computer ranking algorithm designed to monitor the college football landscape as a whole, objectively and without bias. While we have a vested interest in Notre Dame, an attempt is made to view the performance of the Irish via appropriate statistical metrics that benchmark on-field production (irrespective of how said production is measured).

Explanation Of The AVR

The intent of the AVR is to reward teams that do the following well:

  1. Win early and often, specifically on the road
  2. Play tough competition throughout the year
  3. Are statistically superior
  4. Win by large point differentials
  5. Win big games against quality opponents

The AVR is comprised of five independent metrics specifically designed to measure and rank a team’s performance relative to the five items above:

  1. Adjusted Win Percentage (AWP)
  2. Strength of Schedule (SOS)
  3. Team Performance Ratio (TPR)
  4. Margin of Victory (MOV)
  5. Quality Wins and Losses (QWL)

Each team is assigned normalized point values for these five metrics which are then combined using a weighted averaging technique. The metrics are described in detail below.

1. Adjusted Win Percentage (AWP)

AWP measures a team’s ability to win games with a simple win percentage calculation adjusted for home and away contests. Teams are given slightly more credit for an away win and slightly more debit for losing to an opponent on their home field.

2. Strength of Schedule (SOS)

The SOS algorithm uses the AWP to measure the strength of a team’s opponents and opponents’ opponents. Point values for these two categories are calculated, normalized and combined using a weighted average.

A debit is given to teams that schedule a non-Division I (or non-FBS) opponent.

3. Team Performance Ratio (TPR)

The TPR aims at benchmarking a team’s production to its competition by defining performance difference ratios (or simply performance ratios) between the statistical averages of the team and its opponents. This is a very useful tool for appropriately gauging on-field performance.

For example, suppose Team X averaged 25 points per game (PPG) against competition that allowed—on average—15 points a game. While 25 PPG seems rather pedestrian, it understimates Team X’s ability to score. The difference ratio—here termed a performance ratio, or PR—of Team X’s average PPG and the average points allowed by opposing defenses ((25 – 15)/15 = 0.67) adjusts for this disparity. In other words, as the PR indicates, Team X averaged 67 percent more points than their competition typically allowed.

The TPR is comprised of three PR’s that measure the following categories:

  • Turnover margin
  • Offense
  • Defense

These three components are normalized and combined using a weighted average. The offensive and defensive components are given a moderately higher weight than turnover margin.

The offensive and defensive PR’s are calculated using the following statistical categories:

  • Third down efficiency
  • Red zone efficiency
  • Points per game
  • Rushing yards per attempt
  • Rushing yards per game
  • Passing yards per attempt
  • Passing yards per game

For these seven statistics, PR’s are calculated, normalized and combined using a weighted average. Slightly more value is assigned to third down and red zone scoring efficiency than the other other five statistical categories.

4. Margin of Victory (MOV)

MOV is simply the scoring differential between a team and its opponents. Some balk at the use of this metric stating it motivates teams to run up the score. The AVT, however, assigns a paltry weighting factor to this particular metric. Additionally, it is one of the more predictive AVR metrics of bowl games.

5. Quality Wins/Losses (QWL)

The QWL metric is akin to “bonus” points. Point values are assigned to teams that win or lose by a narrow margin to teams inside the top 25 of the AVR. For teams that accomplish neither, zero point value is assigned (hence the notion of “bonus” points). The point values of the remaining teams are normalized and combined with the other four AVR metrics.