The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


These have been mentioned elsewhere, but they're still interesting as we head into the MMIX edition of the NFL's championship game:
  1. During the last season played in World War II, the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers combined their squads to form a single entry in the NFL. The combined team was due to both the player shortage during the war and Steelers owner Art Rooney's financial issues at the time. The Steelers had merged with their cross-state rivals in Philadelphia the previous season, but the Eagles severed the merger. This new combined team played their home games in Pittsburgh's Forbes Field and in Chicago's Comiskey Park. The team, informally known as "Card-Pitt", lost all 10 games on their schedule that year. They were derisively known as the "Carpets", because they let everyone walk all over them. The two teams went back to playing in their own cities the following year.
  2. In 1947, three years after they had temporarily merged with the Steelers, the Chicago Cardinals won their first official NFL title, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles, 28-21. Though the two teams met the next year in a rematch (with the Eagles taking their first NFL title, 7-0), the Cardinals would never play in another NFL title game until this season. It was also their last title match in Chicago, as they would play their final game at Comiskey Park in 1959 (losing to the cross-town Bears, 31-7). The final game the Cards played in 1959 before they moved to Saint Louis was on December 13, when they lost their season finale, 35-20, to… the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cardinals have gone the longest without winning the NFL title, marking their 61st season since their last title. The Lions are next at 51 years (their last title was in 1957).
  3. The following year in 1960, the NFL expanded to Dallas. The new Cowboys franchise was started in direct response to the new AFL started by Lamar Hunt, who also had a franchise in Dallas (the Texans; the team would eventually become the Kansas City Chiefs). At the time the Cowboys were added to the 13-team league, there were only two other teams that had never played in the NFL title game – the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Oddly enough, all three teams have won five Super Bowls each since the AFL-NFL merger.
  4. 26 of the NFL's current 32 member teams have played in a previous Super Bowl. The Cardinals will be the 27th team. The other five teams to never play in a Super Bowl: the Detroit Lions, the Cleveland Browns, the New Orleans Saints, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Houston Texans. Of the five teams, the Texans have never played in a playoff game.
  5. Teams playing their first time in the Super Bowl have not done well. There have been 18 times where one of the two teams was playing in its first Super Bowl, not counting the first game and the three games where both teams were first-timers. In those 18 games, the first-time team lost 14 times. The four first-time winners were the Steelers, the 49ers, the Ravens and the Buccaneers.
  6. The last time both teams were making their franchise Super Bowl debuts was in Super Bowl XX, whe the Bears defeated the Patriots, 46-10.
  7. The San Francisco 49ers are the only NFL team to be undefeated in multiple Super Bowl appearances. They won their fifth Super Bowl in 1995 over the San Diego Chargers. The following year, the Dallas Cowboys won their fifth over the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX, in their eighth Super Bowl appearance – all since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
  8. The Steelers are the first of the three five-win teams to go for their sixth Super Bowl win. The win would also give them their 14th win in a conference or league championship game, one more than the Cowboys (13-11) and the Packers (13-5).
  9. A win by the Cardinals in the Super Bowl would double the total number of playoff wins by the team in the previous 60 seasons with their three wins this year.The Cardinals have won four of their five playoff games since moving to Arizona in 1988 - though they were only in two seasons (1998 and this year).
  10. There has been only one quarterback in the history of the Super Bowl to start two different games with different teams. That was Craig Morton, who lost Super Bowl V with the Cowboys (literally – he threw an interception in the closing minutes of the game to put the Colts into field goal range) and Super Bowl XII with the Broncos. Strangely enough, the Broncos were making their first appearance in the Super Bowl in that second game – just as the Cardinals are under Kurt Warner.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why I Haven't Been Blogging

(or, "Why I hate Office 2007 So Much")

Microsoft wanted to make their newest Office package easy to integrate into the world of web publishing, so they changed things so that Word's basic file extension, .docx, would essentially become an XML-based web document.

Only one little problem: even if your document was saved as a previous version of Word (the tried-and-true .doc extension, for example), if you try to copy-and-paste from Word to Blogger or any other online HTML-based text editing program, you get HTML errors up the wazoo.

For example: when I paste a simple line from a box score that I was editing in Word '07, this is what it looks like in code format:

(EDIT: I couldn't even get the bleepin' thing to work enough to post!)

What it should look like is this:

Power-play Conversions: NAS - 1 of 4; CHI - 0 of 6. Attendance: 16,802. Goalies: Chicago, Huet (37 shots, 34 saves). Nashville, Rinne (35 shots, 34 saves). Referees: Eric Furlatt, Greg Kimmerly. Linesmen: Jonny Murray, Tim Nowak.

To get it to look like that, I have to copy the text into Wordpad or Notepad, then paste it to Blogger.

Anyone who knows how to get around this annoyance, please - let me know.

Friday, January 09, 2009

2008 Final BCS Win Strength Ratings

Win Strength Rating is a (mostly) simple way of expressing the relative "strength" of a NCAA football team's win total in a given season. Win Strength Rating (WSR) begins with a team's win totals, expressed in three areas - overall wins, conference wins, and expected wins. Expected Wins are figured based on the team's points scored and allowed over a given season, using the Pythagorean Theorem posited by Bill James way back in the 1980's. All three of these win totals are averaged together to produce the raw Win Strength score.

In an effort to account for schedule strength, each team's raw score is adjusted based on their SOS rating in four of the computer ranking systems (Anderson, Colley, Massey and Sagarin). It's arbitrary, of course, since those four are the only ones that provide strength of schedule totals in their ranking lists. To determine the WSR strength of schedule component, first you determine the average SOS rating in each of the four ranking systems for all of Division I-FBS. In 2008, these totals were: Anderson, .495; Colley, .498667; Massey, 3.581; and Sagarin, 69.51.

Next, each individual team's SOS rating is divided by the subdivision's average for each of the four rankings, producing a number that is either greater than 1 (indicating a team whose schedule was stronger than the average team), or less than 1 (indicating a team whose schedule was weaker than the average team). These four "percentages" are averaged together to produce the Strength of Schedule factor. For example, Utah's SOS Average for 2008 was 0.99558 - just slightly less than the average Division I-FBS team (and the worst SOSA in the top 10). Utah's Win Strength Rating, before the Sugar Bowl, was only 9.92 (compared to their actual total of 12 wins).

For bowl games, however, the regular season WSR is adjusted because of the increased schedule strength of their opponents. The 68 teams playing in the 34 scheduled bowl games had an average SOSA of 1.015779. So, to adjust for the difference, teams that win their bowl game have their WSR increased by 1.015779, while the losers have it decreased by the same amount. Obviously, the base WSR will be adjusted by the extra win in the standings and the additional points scored and allowed, so WSR can vary from the end of the regular season to the last bowl game. Utah's WSR was bumped up to 11.528 by their win over 'Bama in the Sugar Bowl - which, at the time, moved them into third behind USC and Florida.

USC and Texas temporarily held the top spot in WSR before the BCS title game; however, it was already unlikely that whoever won the BCS Championship would end up not finishing ahead of the Trojans in the final standings. Florida was ranked third going into the BCS title game and Oklahoma fifth; both were also less than one "win" away from the Longhorn's WSR of 12.492 and USC's 12.085.

Listed below is the top 10 in WSR:
RK Team ------ CONF GP -W-L- PCT PF-PA -- XW% |CW-L |BW-L | -WSR- SOSA
1. Florida --- SECE 14 13 1 .929 611 181 .919
| 7-1 | 1-0 | 13.26 1.117
2. Texas ----- B12S 13 12 1 .923 551 244 .836
| 7-1 | 1-0 | 12.49 1.153
3. USC ------- PA10 13 12 1 .923 488 117 .946
| 8-1 | 1-0 | 12.08 1.028
4. Utah ------ MTWC 13 13 0 .999 480 224 .821
| 8-0 | 1-0 | 11.53 0.996
5. TCU ------- MTWC 13 11 2 .846 437 147 .898
| 7-1 | 1-0 | 10.95 1.005
6. Oklahoma -- B12S 14 12 2 .857 716 343 .813
| 7-1 | 0-1 | 10.64 1.151
7. Missouri -- B12N 14 10 4 .714 591 381 .706
| 5-3 | 1-0 | 10.12 1.098
8. Va.Tech --- ACCC 14 10 4 .714 309 234 .636
| 5-3 | 1-0 | 09.98 1.126
9. Georgia --- SECE 13 10 3 .769 409 319 .622
| 6-2 | 1-0 | 09.94 1.112
10. Alabama -- SECW 14 12 2 .857 422 200 .817
| 8-0 | 0-1 | 09.84 1.036

Incidentally, the worst team in Division I-FBS was the University of Washington, who failed to win a single game this year. Their 1.12292 SOS average did not help their cause, as they finished with a 0.474 WSR. North Texas was next to last with a WSR of 0.806; that total was primarily due to their very weak Sun Belt Conference schedule (a SOS average of .86308).