A Concocted Interview with
Ray Waits (myself)
The following are my answers to the basic questions I ask others in interviews with them:
Q: Where do you call home?
A: I was born in Cleburne, Texas, south of Fort Worth. I have lived here all my life except for four months in Houston when I was five. I currently live about twelve miles from the place I was born. Don't expect me to leave.
Q: What is your profession?
A: My money comes from driving a truck. They're the only people that will give me money. (You'll never have trouble finding a job driving a truck.) I try to entertain myself driving down the road by listening to good sports and political talk shows, among others, but it's really just my rest time away from the computer. I have a motto: If somebody would pay me for the work I do, I would do more.
Q: What are your interests?
A: Other than the above, I like playing basketball (I can't find enough guys to play football), fishing, collecting and reading classics, playing with my kids, discussing religion, and learning things. One of these days I will get around to learning mysterious things that interest me such as philosophy, the math I didn't get to, history, and really strange things such as etymology.
Q: What are your favorite sports?
A: American Football is the king and someday will rule the world. I like other sports such as basketball, rugby, and others where people crash into each other. Baseball makes me sleepy and golf makes my heart beat too slowly. However, I still like to keep up with which teams and players are doing the best. The best sports are college and the best of that is usually women's when there is a women's version. Women's basketball, for example, is much better than men's because they still have to shoot the ball instead of slam-dunking it (slam-dunking is boring).
Q: What are your favorite teams?
A: I believe in the home team. Therefore I like the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Mavericks, the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Stars, the TCU Horned Frogs, the Cleburne Yellow Jackets, etc. I've never understood why people's favorite teams aren't the ones where they live. If they don't root for the teams where they live, why don't they move? Of course, that might be a real problem if their favorite football team is in San Francisco and their favorite basketball team is in Miami.
Q: Is your system predictive or retrodictive?
A: I believe teams change as the season progresses. At the beginning of the season the team is not very coordinated. As the season progresses, the team becomes more of a single unit. Thus the tenth week team could easily clobber the second week team. That is why I weight the games toward the end of the season. I have now added a retrodictive ratings list that gives each team a strength number. I figure if the BCS doesn't like you to use the margin of victory, they should like the type of retro I do.
Q: When did you begin to rate sports teams?
A: When I was in high school in the 1970's I used to toy around with the numbers in the NFL. Usually the Jets came in at the top because they scored lots of points. As time went on I began to see that points weren't necessarily the mark of the best team. One thing that became very evident was that some teams didn't score many more points than their opponents - but they kept winning no matter what.
Q: Why did you begin to rate teams?
A: I began rating because I wanted to know who was the best and to compare the Cowboys to the other teams. I was originally inspired by the AP and UPI Polls. There was no NFL Poll that I was aware of so the next step was to do it myself.
Q: What are the most important factors in rating sports teams?
A: I see some rating systems advertise something like: We use 1,487,926 different factors in 7,248 categories to formulate our algorithm. I applaud their research and even envy the amount of time and manpower they must have but there are a very few factors that actually seem to matter. These are the certainty of being able to beat lesser teams, the determination to win no matter how tough the opponent is, and how well they play against equal opponents.
Q: What is the future of computer ratings?
A: The polls have been sufficient in the past but left a bit to be desired when they were split as to which team won the championship. Then I began to see Jeff Sagarin's computer ratings. These were much more interesting but I still didn't quite grasp teams with wimpy schedules being rated high while apparently good teams with very difficult schedules were rated low. I couldn't understand why a team was penalized by losing to a team that was rated higher in the polls, either, if it was close. With the advent of the BCS and its recognition of the usefulness of computer ratings hope began to shine through. Someday the BCS guys will drop the win-loss thing and the schedule strength thing and the ratings will be incredibly better. These things are redundant. The computer ratings already incorporate them. I think computer ratings will someday be the rule, though I can't say what form it will be in.
Q: What else does the world need to know about Ray Waits?
A: It's probably better if they don't know much about me other than that it is my goal to make computer ratings the first choice of those who wish to know which team is the better one. Another goal I have is to set up a simple formula by which teams can actually earn their spots in the playoffs and bowls. The Superlists are just the beginning of that dream. I also have a particular setup that the NCAA could run themselves without injecting any personal opinion at all. Isn't that what they are looking for? I doubt they would be interested.
My main page for ratings is http://yourlinx.tripod.com/ .
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