An Interview with
YL: In my opinion, you are at the top of the heap in sports ratings. Nevertheless, you are more than willing to help others who share the same interest and your comparison page attests that fact. What inspired you to create my favorite page?
Kenneth: When I started doing computer ratings for college football in 1995, there were fewer than 10 different systems being published online. I would visit each of them weekly to study their results and how they worked. The comparison page seemed like a good way to see at a glance where a team was ranked by the various systems. The popularity of this page is increased tremendously as more and more computer ratings became available (now there are more than 60). Actually the expertise I gained compiling this page is probably what landed me a spot in the BCS.
YL: Speaking of the BCS, what is the future of computer ratings there? Will their influence increase or will the powers that be insist on including human opinion? I like David Wilson's concept in his ratings where teams actually have to earn their playoff spots. In fact, I have developed a simple system where teams could choose half their opponents to earn points toward the championship. Will the BCS ever be a system where the teams will actually have to earn their right to play for the championship?
Kenneth: There have been some articles written recently criticizing the BCS computers, in particular the perception that you must run up the score to impress the computers. Most people, including the media, do not understand how the computer ratings work. There may be some changes to the BCS, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a playoff system sometime in the future.
YL: What do you think are the most important factors in your own ratings?
Kenneth: It is important to get a good balance between rewarding wins, strong wins, and schedule. The statistical model I use accomplishes this.
YL: Do you consider your system to be predictive or retrodictive?
Kenneth: The ratings are more retrodictive; but the offense/defense numbers allow for more accurate predictions.
YL: Now, about you - how would you describe your profession?
Kenneth: I am working toward my PhD in mathematics at Virginia Tech. I am a GTA there.
YL: Outside doing the ratings for which you are famous, what are your interests?
Kenneth: Watching (football & basketball) and playing (basketball & tennis) sports, computer programming, road trips.
YL: Now you've just destroyed the common perception that the people who do these ratings are just computer geeks. What are your favorite sports and which teams or players do you follow?
Kenneth: I'm not much of a pro sports fan anymore. I like college football and basketball. Of course VT is my favorite team, and I pull for all the VT grads who go pro.
YL: Here's the final question. Where do you call home and what else does the world need to know about Kenneth Massey?
Kenneth: I live in Blacksburg, VA. The world knows too much about me already :-).
We would like to thank Mr. Massey for this interview. His web site can be found at http://www.masseyratings.com/
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