Frequently Asked Questions
General disclaimer about rating systems
Most of you will have heard this before. Computer rating systems are completely objective; that is, they consider no human factors. As such, some folks will consider them "flawless;" others will consider them hopelessly flawed to forever apply mathematical reasoning to a highly humanized problem. I could argue the point from both sides. I prefer to examine a rating system from the perspective of why it is rating a particular team at a given level. Are teams being rewarded for tough victories? Does a team's schedule reflect in its ranking? Is a team's schedule so abnormal that there is no way that team can be ranked fairly? These are all questions to bear in mind when looking at the results of a particular system.
We will never know the true ordered ranking of the Division I-A college teams, let alone all 300-plus high school teams in this state. However, I think this system is an improvement compared to the ASWA writer's polls, where regional biases run rampant. At least here, there can be some neutrality. In fact, a computer system is totally neutral in the sense of regional bias or favoritism. Only the numbers can appear "biased."
"Important" Legal Disclaimers
Due to liability and copyright issues, I must say again that: this page is in no way affiliated with, sponsored by, or sanctioned by the Alabama High School Athletic Association. You may visit the AHSAA's web site by clicking here.
The caretaker of these pages gains no commercial benefit from producing these ratings--these pages are solely for your personal amusement. If you use the data that are available here, all I ask is that you provide a link to the page and let me know.
What rating system is used for your rankings?
I use a carbon copy of the rating system developed by David Wilson. His site, including an example, can be found here. His system works very good in a case like this, where all teams are rated and have varying strength levels. The ratings will begin to sort themselves out by the fourth or fifth week. I am particularly fond of using his system in college football--and I think it can work in Alabama.
My team's record is wrong! The score is wrong! The score is missing! What can I do?
You can e-mail me at email@example.com with your team's scores. If there is one error, there could be others, and I would appreciate your help in sorting them out. Inevitably, schools fail to report game results to the AP or even to the AHSAA (they fine tens of schools each week for failing to report scores!!)...so if you know one that I don't, please send it to me.
My team is better than what your rating suggests. What can I do?
Grin and bear it. This is a rating made by computer. It is NOT my opinion, it is NOT important, it is NOT relevant to the playoff process. The AHSAA office knows I compile this rating, and they do not support it or recognize it in any way. This is an educational experience for all of us. If you email me complaining about where your team is rated or telling me that 'my rating system' is bad, I will forward your email address to a spam clearinghouse.
"The ratings are a joke. I would say more, but they speak for themselves."
I would appreciate constructive criticism or specific questions, not generalized blubber about the ratings. If this is your sentiment, please learn how computer rating systems work before you come back--this page is obviously not for you.
My team's game wasn't played on Tuesday, you moron! Why do you have it displayed that way?
Any games that I didn't find until after the weekend was over (be it Monday, Tuesday, or whenever) are clearly marked with a Tuesday game date. For example, a game date of 9/2/03 is given to all the scores I had trouble finding in Week 1. If you want the date to be right, make sure your school's score is turned in to the AP on game night!
Using the ratings early in the season
Just like a team's record, their early-season computer rating doesn't mean much. Having not done this before, I think the ratings should begin to take shape around the end of September. Weekly review of the Colley method showed that his ranking for college teams became representative after about five games--so by Week 5, I think the results here will be most meaningful.
Why am I doing this?
A few reasons. First, I'm a nerd that loves sports. This kind of stuff is fun to me. Second, I believe in fairness and equality and want to see a rating system that will treat all teams fair regardless of location, history, or any other reason. Third, one day I envision a "true" state championship tournament where the top 32 teams overall, regardless of class, compete for the ultimate prize. This system may be a start to that (check out the way Illinois does their football tournament, for example).
Who the heck are you?
I'll be happy to share details if you email me. Until then, I'll tell you I am a graduate of Hackleburg High School (Class 1A, Region 8). I am currently a graduate student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I've been a basketball referee for a number of years (that number is greater than 5, but less than 20!), and I love sports for 10 months out of the year--after the College World Series, I take two months off to gear up for football season.
I like what you're doing. Can I help?
Sure. Email me and we can talk about it. The most help I need is in getting those scores that are hard to find. You can reproduce the ratings on your own (Wilson's code is freely available on his web page). If someone is willing to share scores with me (and they are accurate and reliable!), I'll be glad to mention them as a contributor on the front page.
Again, email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.