OSU expectations, statistical probability

A CO-WORKER OF mine, a Duck, bangs the same drum that you so often see on the message boards: Mike Riley will never get Oregon State over the hump and into a BCS Bowl game. He criticizes the OSU playcalling, shakes his head in a condescending manner. And I roll my eyes and compare him to the rich kid in school who acts like he has anything to do with the trust fund his grandfather bequeathed him.

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It's an amusing little game that we play, but I've decided that it's time to go look some things up and squash him like a bug when he returns from his holiday vacation.

Point blank, here it is: Anybody who says that it's not unrealistic to expect that OSU make it to a BCS game once a decade should never be buying lottery tickets because they are going to be bitterly disappointed that the 5 tickets they buy per day for Powerball still hasn't hit after 20 years.

Worse, if you can't understand that spending more money increases your chances of success (for example, being angry that your neighbor who buys 50 tickets per day has managed to hit a small jackpot a couple times), then it's time for you to pull up a chair and do some learning.

It's a concept called "statistical probability" and while it's true that you can't win if you don't play the game, you also should manage your expectations instead of kicking the dog every time your 5 lotto tickets are round-filed.

Let's disregard the statistics correlating money invested with success. Let's forget about the fact that the Beavers rank at or near the bottom of the conference in virtually every monetary category from coaching staff salaries to recruiting budgets to athletic department budgets. Let's disregard recruiting rankings and stars and squabbling about systems and offensive philosophies.

It's incredibly difficult to make it to a BCS game.

Only 29 teams have made more than one appearance since the BCS era began in 1998.

Think about that for a moment, because there have been 72 games played which means a total of 144 appearances.

Then you throw out the outliers (BCS busters) who squeaked in by bullying through a laughable conference schedule (Boise State and Utah) and you're down to the following 27 teams:

Ohio State
Oklahoma
Florida State
USC
Florida
Alabama
Virginia Tech
LSU
Oregon
Stanford
Michigan
Wisconsin
Miami
Texas
Notre Dame
Auburn
West Virginia
Georgia
Louisville
Iowa
Nebraska
Tennessee
TCU
Penn State
Cincinnati
Illinois
Kansas State

Now let's focus on the repeat appearances in the Pac-12:

USC
Oregon
Stanford

So basically by saying it's not unreasonable to expect a BCS appearance once a decade, you are in effect saying that Oregon State belongs in the same class as those 3 programs.

I'm not sure I agree with that… and honestly if you can walk around and say that you expect Oregon State to perform at or above the level of those 3 programs, you may need to be fitted for a special coat with the arms in the back.

The reality is, Oregon State is performing way above their collective means, year in and year out. I know it's silly to try and interject things like "reason" and "logic" into fan discussions. As fans, we are naturally myopic, and I don't need to repeat the same tired axiom that "fan" is short for "fanatic" to get my point across.

I'm just sayin'.


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