College football fans are often up in arms about the Bowl Championship Series' bizarre twists and turns, usually directing their ire at how BCS rankings are affected by non-human polls. As bad as college football's championship process may be, it's nothing compared to a new system being used by the Oregon School Activities Association. It's a complicated power-ranking formula which this year put a one-loss team ahead of an undefeated conference champion ... which was the only team to beat the higher-seeded team.
According to the Portland Oregonian, the school most aggrieved by the new OSAA power rankings is Sherwood, which pounded fellow Northwest Oregon Conference foe Wilsonville, 55-28 on Oct. 1, only to see Wilsonville be given a No. 1 seed while Sherwood settled for a No. 2 seed.
"If we look at the ranking system as it is right now, of course people are going to have questions," OSAA assistant executive director Brad Garrett told the Oregonian. "The reality is, we need to wait until these brackets actually play out a little bit more."
While the scenario seems ludicrous, the reason for the rankings as they are appears to be a season-opening, cross-border battle Sherwood played with Skyview High of Vancouver, Wash. As with all their other games, the Bowmen rolled past Skyview, 42-28, as you can see in the highlight clip below, but the OSAA ranking system seemed to penalize them for playing an out-of-state opponent.
Yet that ratings discount seems even more egregious when one looks at Skyview's results. The Storm finished the regular season at 8-2, with their only losses coming to Sherwood and undefeated Camas (Wash.) High. Those results are far better than many of the in-conference foes that both Sherwood and Wilsonville rolled past during the season.
Naturally, Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence could have plenty of reasons to complain about the way the ratings panned out. Instead, he said that he thought his team's slight wasn't too significant because the top four teams all landed in the top four slots, which would set up the semifinals all seem to agree would be deserved.
"Any system is going to be flawed somewhere, somehow," Lawrence told the Oregonian. "And we stayed in the top four, so I'm fine with that. If the power rankings work the way they should, the top four teams should meet in the semifinals. There's a possibility they won't, but ... in the future it could be a different story."
If he needed additional support, Lawrence need look only to the coach of the team ranked ahead of him: Wilsonville's Adam Guenther.
"It's a shame, because that one (Sherwood-Skyview) game dictates a lot," Guenther said. "And it doesn't just affect Sherwood. It affects everybody in the entire bracket. I mean, if you figure that game in, Sherwood is probably No. 2 in the state as far as the RPI, and very well-deserving at that.
"The whole RPI system needs to be examined a little more. It's based on good intentions, but how they're working it, I don't think has everybody pleased."
In fact, the only people who may be pleased are BCS directors. Finally they can point to another football ranking system even more flawed than their own.