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Should Vegas Be In Charge Of This Mess?

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So, remember yesterday, when I appeased a certain Washington blogger who just wanted a little shout out from a Horns blog?

Turns out I was the big winner of that exchange, as I wasn't aware of Dan Steinberg's blog prior to yesterday. And it's terrific.

Steinberg's been burning some serious brain power trying to figure out the best way to rank college football teams. Much like what AR's got going in this weeks' Two Cents series.

Steinberg's idea today? Turn it over to Las Vegas.

Turns out I'm more than a year late to this party. Las Vegas Sports Consultants, the leading consultant for Nevada sports books, started publishing their own OddsMakers Top 25 last year...

I talked to LVSC senior oddsmaker Mike Seba a few minutes ago, and told him that I thought the oddsmakers poll would likely be more accurate than the AP or the coaches or the Harris people.

"Good man," he said. "You're right. When you look at some of the polls from year to year, it just makes you sick sometimes to see where some of these teams are rated. Whereas we know if you matched two teams up on a neutral field, who would be the favorite. It depends on who they played, and where they played, and when they played. Our livelihood depends on it, whereas these guys voting in the AP, they may care less, they could spend five minutes looking at it.

Ho ho! Now this is interesting. And about the sexiest idea I've heard in well over a year.

Steinberg continues:

I asked another LSVC oddsmaker, Sean Van Patten, whether the OddsMakers Top 25 would be a better guide for picking the national champion than the various polls.

"I would say so, yeah," he said, "because theirs is basically based on record, and that's pretty much it. Our guys, they rate out the defense, the offense, so really their numbers are more of an indicator of how good those teams are. And, of course, it's all done for betting purposes, but that's really the telltale sign: is a team three points better or is it three points worse?"

Curious as to what the current Oddsmaker Top 25 looks like? Well, here you go (AP rank in parentheses):

  1. Ohio State (1)
  2. Texas (6)
  3. Southern Cal (3)
  4. Michigan (4)
  5. Florida (2)
  6. Cal (10)
  7. LSU (14)
  8. Louisville (7)
  9. Tennessee (8)
  10. Notre Dame (9)
  11. Clemson (12)
  12. Oregon (18)
  13. West Virginia (5)
  14. Oklahoma (23)
  15. Nebraska (21)
  16. Auburn (11)
  17. Wisconsin (25)
  18. Missouri (19)
  19. Boise State (20)
  20. Georgia Tech (13)
  21. Miami (NR)
  22. Virginia Tech (23)
  23. Iowa (15)
  24. Penn State (NR)
  25. BYU (NR)
Wanna see something else that'll get Horns fans blood churning?  Jeff Sagarin's computer ratings have Texas at #2, just behind Ohio State. (This is in Jeff's "Predictor" ratings, which he says are his most accurate. Naturally, the BCS uses ELO, which can't factor in margin for victory.)

What's the bottom line? There are several points I want to put up for discussion.

  1. Does the above Top 25 mean that Vegas would make Texas a favorite over everyone ranked below them, were the game played on a neutral field?
  2. I ask this because lines are, in the end, set to create action. Vegas isn't just about picking the right spread - it's about creating action.  And balance on the action.  Doesn't Notre Dame have to lay more points because so many folks bet on the Irish? Is this a consideration in these rankings? Or is this just real, hardcore, do-it-for-a-living experts ranking their teams? These are the questions we have to ask.
But damn, this is interesting.  Thanks, Dan.