RATINGS FIXES   (Early-Season Inaccuracies)

The purpose of this tweak/change was to fix the credibility problem associated with the ratings being less accurate early in the season as well as the fact that ratings weren't available at all for the first three weeks of the year.  Under the current plan, ratings exist the entire season, even before the first games are played.  Some teams simply start (roughly) at the point they finished at the previous year; most are updated from last year's final rating, up or down, based on information on what all they have coming back.  Early season ratings will be a combination-- partially based on the starting point and partially based on the early '08 results.  This will help avoid the early-season anomalies because the sample size of data won't be so small early in the year, as we'll essentially be using the (adjusted) data from the previous year, to an extent, as well, in order to gauge schedule strength.  As such, the sample size will be large.

There are two main reasons why this hadn't been done prior to 2007.  Having starting points for (non-national) power ratings systems is quite common-- in fact, much more common than is starting with the teams zeroed-out.  The two reasons why this had never been tried with this system had been a strong desire to keep the ratings "pure" (current year data only) and that there hadn't been a realistic way to get a starting point for the teams, given that with a national system, it's very difficult to read up on 15,000+ schools to see what kind of year they're expected to have.  The desire for purity has waned over the years and there now exists a realistic way to get a decent guess at a good starting point for most schools.

As mentioned above, we manually research the adjustments (eg: a team is determined to be a +3, a -1.5, etc. based on info re: returners) for nearly all teams.  In a few cases, we use roster/statistical info from the prior year to auto-adjust teams.  While admittedly more than a bit crude, a roster alone can provide the opportunity to make a mathematical estimate on whether the team should be stronger/roughly the same/weaker in the following year.  If 42 of 49 kids on last year's roster were seniors, things probably don't look too good for the following year.  If there were only eight seniors on the roster, the future more than likely looks bright.  Obviously, there are many problems with doing this, such as transfers, injuries and, certainly most problematic, the notion of treating all players equally.  We would still argue that it'd give a proposed adjustment that'd be "better than nothing".  For teams with statistics available as well as a roster, the info gleaned will obviously be more accurate as it can be determined whether some of the key statistical performers are expected back or not.

It is important to understand that the adjustments will be quickly washed out, particularly in cases where a small up-or-down change was made.  The wash out will begin as soon as the first game result rolls in, and as every further game is played, where the team started will continue to lessen in importance.  It's really the fact that a start of the year rating is being used at all that is the key aspect of this plan (that, for example, a team starts at a 22), but whether we move them to 23 or 20.5 won't make much of a difference at all once the season is underway.

Ratings in the early-to-mid season will be a combination of the current year data and the starting point.  After a team has played several games, the starting rating will be completely eliminated from the process and their rating will be just as it would have been under the old system.

Please be clear that the ratings from mid-season on are exactly as they were under the "old system".  As such, no biases, such as the teams' starting points will be a factor in any way at that point in the year.  Therefore, states using the ratings for playoff purposes will not in any way be affected by the change, as the differences from the old method will be wiped out by the point they'd be using them.