Whoa, Nellie! Empirical Tests of College Football's Conventional Wisdom
AbstractCollege football fans, coaches, and observers have adopted a set of beliefs about how college football poll voters behave. I document three pieces of conventional wisdom in college football regarding the timing of wins and losses, the value of playing strong opponents, and the value of winning by wide margins. Using a unique data set with 25 years of AP poll results, I test college football's conventional wisdom. In particular, I test (1) whether it is better to lose early or late in the season, (2) whether teams benefit from playing stronger opponents, and (3) whether teams are rewarded for winning by large margins. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I find that (1) it is better to lose later in the season than earlier, (2) AP voters do not pay attention to the strength of a defeated opponent, and (3) the benefit of winning by a large margin is negligible. I conclude by noting how these results inform debates about a potential playoff in college football.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13596.
Date of creation: Nov 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as “Econometric Tests of American College Football’s Conventional Wisdom” (2011) Applied Economics 43 (20): 2493-2518.
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs
- D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-11-17 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAB-2007-11-17 (Labour Economics)
- NEP-SPO-2007-11-17 (Sports & Economics)
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