Rage against the machine

Oklahoma State finished a close third to No. 2 Alabama in the BCS standings. Brett Davis/US Presswire

IT'S BEEN CLEAR FOR A WHILE that the BCS is a mess. (A rematch in the title game? Really?) Fans want something as straightforward as a playoff system, but until that happens, we can turn to a statistical system that offers true clarity on the nation's best teams.

No, we're not talking about the BCS computer ratings. That's nearly as big a mess as the BCS itself, for reasons we'll explain in a bit. We're talking about the Simple Rating System (SRS), which uses a concept so, well, simple that nobody knows who invented it. But Doug Drinen, a mathematics professor at the University of the South, popularized it about five years ago in his blog posts for pro-football-reference.com. The Simple Rating System is now listed as a basic team statistic at Sports Reference's college football site (sports-reference.com/cfb/).