HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - There has been a tremendous amount of criticism heaped on the NJSIAA for the new United Power Rankings. A complicated formula that no one is 100 percent sure is accurate at any time, it basically breaks the ranking of teams into numbers - The Born Power Index and average power points.
The Born Power Index has been around since 1962, and is a mathematical rating system which somehow, determines how good a team is. Somehow, I say, because the formula is proprietary, and William Born, its creator, is not sharing with the public. That lack of transparency has a lot of people bothered.
Coaches do not understand exactly how it works, and have been told differing information about how the index works. So they do not how to move up, or figure out when they will be penalized in the formula. What has been figured out is that the ratings can be used to determine a point spread on the game. Cover the spread, and your BPI stays the same. For every four points you win by, it goes up one point. For every four points you lose by, it goes down a point.
(A note here; Much of what I have learned about the Born Index is courtesy of the work of Mike Pavlichko, who works at WRSU at Rutgers University, as a broadcast administrator, and covers Rutgers and Central Jersey football on WCTC. His twitter feed for the past two weeks has been a fascinating look at the BPI, and he may the be only person keeping the NJSIAA and BPI in check.)
Except when it doesn’t. Pavlichko found several games were the ratings did not move the way they were supposed to and called out the BPI and NJSIAA on why. In most instances, corrections were made.
So, when Paramus lost power points because it was a 60+ favorite over Cliffside Park, but settled for a 42-0 win, people were shocked because they were told that the “blowout rule” was in effect. The Blowout Rule was supposed to be 35 points, at which time, nothing would change. (Much like when games gets to 35 points and you have a running clock.)
Then, it was announced, that the Blowout Rule was in effect starting Week 5. Draw your own conclusion.
A part of you may be wondering if you are comfortable with the NJSIAA embracing a rating system that is used, basically, to determine point spreads, which are basically important only for gambling purposes. Some of you might also be wondering, what is the NJSIAA paying Born for his index, and why someone at the NJSIAA can’t be figuring all this out.
One thing everyone seems to agree with, well almost everyone, this system is stinks, maybe even worse than power points. Who doesn’t? John Fiore, the New Jersey Football Coaches Association President, who says to teams penalized for not running up scores.
“Play better teams.”
According to a poll done by Pavlichko on Twitter, 75% of coaches stated they did not fully understand how the BPI was impacted by their play on the field.
Not that power points has gone completely away. It is now that it is only 40 percent of the UPR, while BPI is 60 percent. And it is an average of a team's power points, rather than a gross total. If this is starting to feel like a word problem from the math class you hated in high school, it is only because not all the variables are being defined.
Now to make matters even better, the NJSIAA has decided to eliminate the sections, and just come up with North and South. So what used to be four eight team brackets, is now two 16 team brackets. So yet another part of the equation has been changed.
You started reading this article wanting to know where Wood-Ridge and Hasbrouck Heights were in the Group 1 rankings, and what their respective State Playoff chances were.
So, without further delay, here are the rankings (released on Gridiron NJ by the NJSIAA.) (Yellow highlighted teams members of the NJIC)
What should become evident right away is, the new system is not too friendly to NJIC, at least in the Group I rankings.
A year ago, North 1, Group 1 featured seven NJIC teams out of eight spots. Cedar Grove was the other. This year, six of the top 16 teams are NJIC teams.
Hasbrouck Heights, the two-time defending North 1, Group 1 champion, is ranked third, behind a pair of Newark Schools, Shabazz and Weequahic. Wood-Ridge, however, is ranked 18th, currently out of the state playoffs. And it is going to be hard for the Blue Devils to move up much.
Friday night they face Wallington, currently ranked 20th. Wood-Ridge, according to BPI, is a one-point favorite. If they win, they finish third in the Patriot Division, and will play Cresskill in the first week of the NJIC Bowl playoffs. Cresskill is currently 16th (last team in). The Blue Devils will probably need to win both games to have a chance at a state playoff bid.
Who their Week 9 (second week of the playoff bowls) is TBA at the moment.
Sitting in between Cresskill and Wood-Ridge is a 4-2 Dunellen team, which still has a 13th ranked Brearley team on its schedule, along with 3-2 Bound Brook and 2-3 Middlesex team. Dunellen is coming off of a 38-12 drubbing by Butler Friday night at Riggin Field in East Rutherford. (Guess no Mud Bowl II for the Bulldogs.)
Hasbrouck Heights is tied with New Milford in UPR, but ranked ahead of the Knights based on BPI. Their story is simple. Win and they will be no lower than three, and could climb up to two. Park Ridge, the Aviators opponent in the NJIC Bowl Championship series in two weeks, is fifth. New Milford is at Rutherford. Rutherford sits second in North Group 2 ratings. Winners meet for the NJIC championship.