An Interview with
YL: Who is this mysterious Flyman? Does he have an alter ego? Or is he doomed to forever hide his true identity?
Flyman: The Flyman is a 35-year-old graduate of Mississippi State University (not Ole Miss; they are our arch-rivals -- many seem to confuse the two) who is the athletic coordinator for the city of Starkville, Mississippi. I earned my nickname while playing intramural football. Being the fastest, I was always on the "Fly" pattern, hence Flyman. There were others with nicknames on the team, too. Hitman would rather tackle someone than pull a flag. Our center, Fatsman, was ... shall we say... gravitationally challenged. Runman was our running back, Gunman was our QB, and Batman earned his name in baseball being the home run hitter! We all got personalized tags and looked cool parked beside each other during the games. Although not a math or statistics major, I have always been math and computer oriented. One night while attending an MSU basketball home game, a mathematical inspiration overcame me which turned out to be the beginning basis of my ranking system. I've been tied to it ever since!
YL: What are the most important factors in that mathematical inspiration?
Flyman: Well, I've got too much time and effort built into this to give out the specifics, but the best way to describe it would be to say it's an alternative slant on schedule strengths. What I like the most about it is that it places just as much importance on the earlier games as it does the later ones! Right now, with the polls, to lose late in the season is very detrimental. Yet, if that same team was to lose that game earlier in the year they would finish much higher in the polls. To me that just doesn't appear the most fair solution!
YL: I understand that. I'll never give the specifics about my system, either. I've noticed there is a wide rift between those who weigh all games the same and those who don't. Schedule strength and how you use it is probably a big factor in which systems score the best. What was the reason you began to rate teams?
Flyman: Actually, before I had a web site, I only did college football and as a hobby was looking for a better system than the polls. Not long after I started, I was able to use the rankings as a "special problems" requirement for one of my college classes. I received an A+ and was told I should look at exposing it to the media somehow! Later I learned some web-page skills, posted it, and went from there. A few years ago, Kenneth Massey contacted me about a computer challenge. Several computers were involved, and Massey and myself tied for first place. There were two challenges the next year and I placed the highest in each of them for computers that year. In 1999, I was invited by yourself to a computer challenge and I still have that "Best Computer" logo posted on my site. So I've had many encouraging reasons to keep my rankings active!
YL: Yes, I have a contest once in a while. Unfortunately, I don't have much time to contribute to doing them. I've basically replaced them for the moment with the Superlists and these interviews. I'm sure I'll have some more contests down the road, though. My main focus is to promote computer ratings which are not currently highly regarded. Tell me your opinion about the future of computer ratings.
Flyman: I've found that there are two main groups who visit the site. The majority who look at the rankings are the college students, which most of them haven't established themselves yet and have little pull in the ranking world. The majority who look at the predictions are the gamblers of the world who care more about covering spreads than where a team is ranked. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that computer rankings were being included in the BCS, but there will always be teams unfairly overlooked as long as there are bowl games because unfortunately "MONEY TALKS". I believe that a playoff system for college football would enhance the computer-ranking future tremendously!
YL: What sports are your favorites and what other teams or players do you follow?
Flyman: I'm not a bandwagon jumper, I stick with the same teams through thick and thin. I follow the Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, Cincinnati Reds, and the New Orleans Saints. This is probably because in the early 1970's they were the mostly televised teams in Mississippi.
YL: What else do we need to know about Flyman?
Flyman: Well, until the interview I didn't even realize that there are people out there wondering my true identity! I've had fun with it the last week, but now I might as well end all the guessing. I go by my middle name which would be Scott Williams. When I'm not ranking teams, I entertain myself by playing electric guitar. I've played for over 15 years and people say I'm good, but I've never played with a band. I'm also in the middle of working on my house. Combine that with the fact that I've been out of town a lot lately and one can quickly see why my rankings haven't been updated as quickly as they have been in the past! I should have a better handle on things come next football season.
We would like to thank Mr. Williams for this interview. His web site can be found at http://www.futuresouth.com/~flyman/flyman.html
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