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   Welcome to TSLMail #135 - Friday, July 16, 2004    
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Watching the Fish-Like Flopping of the BCS Formula
by Will Stewart,

The BCS formula went through its yearly tweak this week, and lo and behold, we see it becoming increasingly reliant on those pesky human polls it was supposed to replace. The whole thing is kind of humorous, if you ask me.

Let's see, here's the sequence of events thus far:

1.) Humans create complex formula, including computer polls, so the all-important championship game isn't totally reliant on human polls.

2.) Humans get mad when formula doesn't match human perception of who the #1 and #2 teams are.

3.) Humans rework the formula to try to make it produce the results they thought it should produce.

4.) Repeat 2 and 3 to infinity.

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Uh, excuse me, professor, but I have a question: If we keep tweaking the formula to try to pull it inline with what we think the #1 and #2 teams should be, then why have the formula at all? Why not just use the human polls, which after all, are what we think the #1 and #2 teams should be?

The latest iteration of the BCS almost does exactly that. It consists of three parts, all weighted equally: the AP poll, the USAT/ESPN coaches' poll, and the average of six computer rankings. As one commentator said, the new formula basically uses the computer rankings to break any ties or disagreements between the human polls.

Good show! That's how it should have been structured all along.

I haven't liked a single change made to the BCS over the years, until now. When they removed margin of victory from the computer polls, I thought that was a huge mistake.  Everyone knows that how much you beat a team by is important, not just whether you beat them. You can't tell me that VT's 24-23 overtime victory against Temple in 2003 should count the same as VT's 62-7 thrashing of the Owls in 1999.

If you feel that you shouldn't reward teams for running up the score, then fine, cap the margin of victory at 20 points. But don't totally eliminate it. (tsk)

After that, it got sillier. Removing margin of victory put increased emphasis on strength of schedule (SOS). I didn't like that, but I could stomach it.

Then they added a new strength of schedule category.

Then they added a "quality wins" category, yet another de facto SOS calculation.

At this point, I thought they were going way overboard to emphasize strength of schedule. The proof was in the fact that if the 2003 formula been applied in 1999, the Hokies wouldn't have gone to the national championship game. And as any chimp with a TV can tell you, VT was definitely one of the top two teams in 1999. Shutting them out of the championship game by discounting their margins of victory and over-penalizing them for their weak strength of schedule would have been criminal (or what passes for criminal in the college football world -- well, sort of. Never mind, enough has been written about that lately).

The latest changes remove the explicit SOS calculation and "quality wins" component. Bravo! SOS is still there, in the human poll voters' minds and in the computer calculations. We don't need two more numbers that emphasize it thrown into the calculation.

Now, to make this new formula even better, let the computer programmers put margin of victory back into their calculations. Then I'll be happy.

Related link: BCS simplifies in hopes of finding new champion, USA Today

Hokies Soccer Recruiting Ranked #8

I'm still agog over the news that the 2004 Virginia Tech men's soccer recruiting class signed by Oliver Weiss was ranked #8 in the nation by College Soccer News. To say that the VT soccer program has gone from nowhere to squarely on the map since hiring Weiss is putting it mildly.

Weiss joined the Hokies in 2002 and led them to a 10-7-1 record, including a seventh-place 5-5 finish in the Big East. Okay, not bad, but nothing special.

Then the Hokies exploded in 2003, going to the NCAA tournament for the first time, finishing 14-5-3 and ending up ranked #21 in the nation by Soccer Times, and as high as #15 by Soccer America.

VT hosted a first-round NCAA game and in front of a record 2,263 fans, tied Clemson 3-3 and then beat them in a shootout, 6-5, to advance. In the second round, VCU beat the Hokies 5-2, ending the best season in VT men's soccer history.

With VT entering the ACC this fall, it's a sport with (as Bill Murray once said in Stripes) "massive potential for growth." As you know, it won't be easy for the Hokies in their new conference. In those College Soccer News rankings, there are six ACC teams in the top 10, and another in the top 16:

  • #2 Duke
  • #4 UNC
  • #5 Maryland
  • #6 Wake Forest
  • #8 VT
  • #10 Clemson
  • #16 Virginia

To close it out, future ACC member Boston College's class is ranked 28th.

Circle October 30th, 2004 on your calendars. That's the day that Virginia invades Blacksburg in the first-ever ACC contest between the two teams. Since starting up their soccer team in 1972, the Hokies are 0-22 against powerhouse Virginia, including losses by scores like 6-0, 7-0, 8-2, and 7-1. The last time the two teams played was 1999, a 2-1 Cavalier victory in Charlottesville.

For Hokies who have rightly admired Virginia's five-time NCAA champion program as a standard of excellence, the thought that the Hokies are gaining on them -- VT was ranked ahead of Virginia in some polls at the end of last season -- is proof of how far Weiss has brought the VT program. On 10/3/04, the Hokies get to see if they've caught the Cavaliers.

Granted, Virginia isn't what they were when Bruce Arena was coaching them, but still, a victory over the Cavs would mark a watershed moment in VT soccer history.

New Site Format

We're gradually folding a new site format into, one that is evolutionary, not revolutionary.  The new format includes small navigational links across the top of each page, designed to ease navigation throughout the site.

As part of this site revamp, we have added three new message boards: a women's basketball board, an Olympic sports board, and a new TSL Pass subscribers' ticket exchange board.

We are also running snazzy new ads throughout the site that are really slick and eye-catching. Be sure to check them out -- they include new TSL sponsor Kroger, whom we're really excited about having on board. More about them later! Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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(Monthly and Quarterly options also available)

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  • A subscribers-only message board for general discussion

As an additional bonus, all subscribers will receive a 10% discount on all purchases made at, our online store providing Hokie-related apparel and gift items. If that's not enough, you should know that your subscription will help support your favorite website,

For more info on TechSideline Pass, and to subscribe, click here. To give TSL Pass as a gift (one-year subscriptions only), click here.

-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week

2005 VT Recruiting War Room #3: Offense
by Chris Horne, 7/16/04, 11:55 am
Since the last Offensive War Room, Tech added one of their top offensive line targets in North Staffordís Antonio North. Northís commitment gives Tech four commitments for the offensive side of the ball. Three of those commitments are for the offensive line, which is considered a need area in this yearís class. Fullback was considered a need as well, and the Hokies landed a good one in Kenneth Jefferson.
in TSL Pass

Catching Up On Summer News
by Will Stewart,, 7/15/04, 12:30 am
With the ongoing TSL site revamp, the advent of ACC membership, and the Marcus Vick mess, we've been remiss in keeping you up to date on what's going on with VT sports in general this summer. Here's a rundown of some of the VT sports news stories we've missed in the last couple of months, including the unusual story of how the Hokies landed Kent Hicks (right).
in News and Notes

Silence is Not Golden, and Other Thoughts
by Jim Alderson, 7/13/04, 10:30 am
In crisis situations such as this, Frank heads straight to ground and virtually disappears. The Virginia Tech fans whose increasingly larger checks are financing the football program have a right to some comments from the guy who is paid a lot of money to run the team.
in TSL Pass

AAU Basketball: A Primer (Part 1)
by Hoop Alliance, 7/12/04, 10:00 am
While the hot month of July representing vacation time, leisure pursuits and travel for many people, it means the start of recruiting for the 2005 season for college basketball coaches across the country, and that means AAU basketball takes its place front and center throughout that month.
in TSL Pass

Hokie Fans Have Had Enough of Vick
by Will Stewart,, 7/7/04, 10:45 am
Tuesday, in response to Marcus Vick's latest dalliance with the law, I saw a phenomenon on the TSL message boards that I call "flipping the switch." It's an expression that I apply most of the time to relationships. I came up with it back in my young, single days, when I was in and out of dating relationships and watching others go through the same thing.
in TSL Columnists

Suspensions Handed Down for Vick, Hill, Imoh
by Will Stewart,, 7/7/04, 12:15 am
In two statements released by Virginia Tech late Tuesday afternoon, three-game suspensions were given to Marcus Vick, Brenden Hill, and Mike Imoh for their convictions in May of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and a separate indefinite suspension was given to Vick for his arrest early Sunday morning on charges of reckless driving and marijuana possession.
in News and Notes

Marcus Vick Arrested for Reckless Driving, Possession of Marijuana
by Will Stewart,, 7/6/04, 3:45 pm
Marcus Vick is in trouble with the law again. The backup QB's Virginia Tech career is in jeopardy after being arrested early Sunday morning on charges of reckless driving and possession of marijuana. Vick was stopped by state police on Interstate 64 near New Kent, and the troopers found two bags containing marijuana in his possession.
in News and Notes

Hanging With the New Commish
by Jim Alderson, 7/6/04, 11:45 am
Heading to Greensboro for Joining Day seemed as good a reason as any, particularly to Larry Ramsey, the keeper of our Clubhouse RV. How many times would we be able to be around when Tech joined the ACC? Larry announcing his attentions to pitch camp at ACC HQ seemed to cause some concern among certain Triad Hokies, perhaps envisioning Swofford arriving to work that morning to find our Clubhouse RV parked on the grass in front of the ACC building or worse, in his parking place.
in TSL Pass

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