What to Expect
Following the ratings from the start this year? Here's what you'll see.
After Week 1:
On the Wobus side, every team that wins will be rated 0.33 plus their "class bonus" (0.5 for 6A, 0.4 for 5A, etc., no bonus for 1A). So all 1A teams that win are 0.33, all who lose are -0.333, 6A teams that win are 0.83, 6A teams that lose are 0.17, etc.,regardless of who anyone plays.
In the Wilson ratings, the team's starting rankings are very important for the first few weeks. As of 2009, I include games played in the last few weeks of the previous year (including the playoffs) along with the current season's games to stabilize the ratings. Many other rating systems do this, so I don't think it's unwarranted.
However, remember what every coach tells his team at the beginning of the year: "we all start 0-0." That's a benefit of the computer ratings--no unfair advantage. In Wilson's system, the starting ratings that I use (that are based on last year's results) are completely phased out by Week 5. In other words, your season stands alone and last year's performance has no bearing on this year's record.
Now, there is lots of jostling around as team records start to come into form. But remember, if you lose two games to 2-0 teams, you appear stronger than if you had lost those games to 1-1 teams. This is the nature of computer ratings!
Typically, as the early weeks go by, the Wobus ratings settle roughly into being sorted by won-lost record, with some added sorting by strength of schedule. The Wilson ratings, however, can move about quite a bit (Wilson discusses this on his own page, and so do many other computer raters), and thus these ratings remain dependent on the starting point that I've included (see above).
By Week 4 (give or take a week), both ratings systems usually are producing pretty good results. Remember that there is no margin of victory component--only wins and losses matter--so teams with numerous close wins will be rated just as highly as teams with all blowouts.
At Week 5, the starting point used for the Wilson ratings is no longer used--the current season will be based on no other information. (This is always true in the Wobus ranking). By about 6 weeks into the season, the two systems give pretty comparable results, if you look closely.
Of course, one of the most important features by mid-season is the region standings--and this is probably what gets the most traffic at the website. At the end of week 4, each team will have played about three region games, so we're well on our way to figuring out who stands the best shot at the playoffs.
October and beyond:
Weeks 6 through 9 are region games for most teams, and the region standings take precedence. As with all times during the season, the computer ratings are "just for fun" but the standings are what go into the playoff brackets. Still, I think we can learn from both, and the ratings are rather effective at assessing strong and weak teams in October.
End of season:
Obviously at this point the brackets matter more than the computer ratings, and become the major draw to the page. One of the site's patrons, Corey G., provided me with a nice Excel spreadsheet a few years ago that has become the cornerstone of the bracket creation for the site. We all owe him a huge thanks for that.
At any rate, I believe the final regular season computer ratings identify the championship-caliber teams, and those who need an upset or two in their part of the bracket to move on. We're also able to identify overrated and underrated teams. Also, the ratings generally have agreement with the ASWA "polls" after 10 games, as they probably should.
Any questions or comments? Email me at email@example.com.