Check that: Boise State deserved No. 10 BCS ranking, not No. 11 … as if it matters

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Something didn’t add up to Jerry Palm over at CBSSports.com. Or, he just had some time to kill, and it was worth checking other people’s math to make him sleep better at night.

In a column that the long-time computer rankmeister did Monday for the website (linked here), he discovered that a “glitch” in Wes Colley’s final rankings, that are used in the BCS tabulation, incorrectly put LSU a spot ahead of Boise State. Palm says that Colley’s ranking didn’t include the Appalachian State-Western Illinois playoff game. Why does it matter?

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“I will spare you some of the gory, mathematical details,” Palm wrote, “but the net result of that omission in Colley’s rankings is that LSU, which he ranked ninth, and his No. 10, Boise State, should be switched. Alabama and Nebraska, which he had 17th and 18th, would also be swapped.”

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Today, Boise State President Bob Kustra showed he’s more than just a steamed potato.

From his own private Idaho, Kustra sent an e-mail to fellow university presidents and conference commissioners Tuesday, a day after Palm’s discovery and story. The BCS has since moved Boise State up to No. 10, and LSU to No. 11, but it apparently won’t affect their bowl pairings. Boise State is still stuck in the Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas instead of a BCS game.

But it gave BCS critic Kustra something to bite into.

Here’s the email that Kustra sent to the Associated Press:

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I trust that you have heard about the news from CBS sports analyst Jerry Palm that the BCS rankings erroneously ranked the positions of four teams in the final BCS rankings of the season.

The BCS has corrected for it and Bill Hancock has apologized, but it still leaves open the question of transparency. There are five other computer models used to determine the rankings each week that are hidden from public view, unlike the approach used by Wes Colley who allows the light of day to shine on his work. Thankfully, in this case an astute third party caught the error and brought it to the attention of the BCS. I’m sure that you can imagine numerous “what if” scenarios where this type of mistake could have had significant repercussions.

How many times have we heard calls for transparency on our campuses and how many times have we shared our governance and communicated with our faculties and other constituencies in a transparent fashion? Yet, in intercollegiate athletics, with the NCAA standing silently on the sidelines, we allow the BCS to work its magic with no idea of how accurate its rankings are on a week to week basis.

It’s egregious enough to see teams with mediocre seasons climb into the BCS bowl games because they happen to be in privileged conferences, while others with better records are written off as second-class citizens. When we cannot see how these decisions are made, it becomes an affront to the concepts of integrity and fair play that we claim to value.

When C. Wright Mills wrote of the “power elite”, I doubt he was speaking of universities and intercollegiate athletics. If he were still around, there could be a great second edition, this time focused on where elitism really runs rampant and takes Division 1 football players from some conferences and restrains their ability to compete. I hope you noticed my choice of the word, “restrain.” I trust we will all be hearing more about “restraint” unless presidents step up and do the right thing.

Does “restraint” here mean “restraint of trade,” one of those phrases that seem to send up the red flags in Congress when it comes to monopolies and breaking up illegal cartels?

That’s no glitch in his computer. He meant to type that.

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