Some interesting things that caught my eye recently:
"The Oddsmakers Top 25." Point spread geeks like me have often pondered the improved rankings that would come from using market based measures of team strength. Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post has found that Las Vegas Sports Consultants actually compiles such a list! Why they (or a customer) doesn't post it or make updates available on the net escapes me, as it would be cheap publicity. Perhaps someone does, or perhaps the asking price is too high. Anyway, as of a week ago they had Cal at #6, three spots ahead of Tennessee at #9, who beat them handily in the season's first week. Thus, the point spread market - presumably the best measure of team abilities - is poorly suited as a ranking system for the purposes of fashioning the BCS Champion.
Tim Brando also has Cal ranked ahead of Tennessee, for which he's had to defend himself to Vols fans: "California right now is playing better football," he says. But if they both finish in the top 5 with 1 loss, Brando would reverse his rank to give the heads-up winner the edge in the BCS beauty contest. I agree with Brando, but this is further proof that rankings are inherently inconsistent.
At Knowledge Problem, Lynne Kiesling points out that Floyd Landis' posting of documents related to his failed testosterone test has the advantage of employing distributed knowledge to fight the Doping Police. Check out Lynne's post - the authorities seem like malicious Keystone Cops to me. Fight the power Floyd!
Finally, my three cents on the Miami-FIU incident: 1) The biggest window into UM for most people comes via college football, and everyone is tired of seeing the Miami thug show. This is an administrative problem that may claim the head of the AD in addition to Coach Coker before it's all said and done. 2) Miami grabs the headlines, but the actions of the two FIU players in mugging and pummeling the PAT holder were utterly despicable - worse in some dimensions than the Haynesworth incident. If I had an orange jersey on it would have been tough to stay on the sideline, but there were too many transgressions on the Miami side for self-defense to be a valid excuse for their behavior. 3) College refs need to study the tape of this game and the Clemson-South Carolina game from two years ago - at the beginning of each of the next five seasons. Officials have a tough job, and it is made tougher when facing players intent on creating mayhem. But I was a close observer of the game two years ago, and I have no doubt that the SEC officials failed miserably in that game - it was a game they could and should have controlled. If officials are prepared -- and there are signs that they are better prepared now -- they are more likely to intervene successfully. There's plenty of work that needs to be done on this problem, from the league offices to the ADs, not just by Larry Coker.
Hat tip to two college pollster wannabees at EDSBS and mgoblog - who like SI's Stewart Mandel dropped Clemson multiple spots after the Tigers' second team manhandled Temple last week. The fools!! But give 'em an AP ballot anyway. As history shows, AP poll lunacy is just par for the course.