Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Broken Record

Gather around, readers, for a conference … about conferences.

A conference, for those who don’t follow college sports, is an association of teams, typically from the same region. The University of Florida, my alma mater, is in the 14-team Southeastern Conference, known in sports circles as the SEC.

The majority of a team’s games are against teams in its own conference, and the remainder of the schedule is filled with nonconference opponents. Florida, for example, plays a dozen regular-season football games a year — eight against SEC teams and four against non-SEC teams.

Does all that make sense? Good. Now check out the college football standings pictured below. They look good overall. The problem lies left of overall.

Conf. is short for conference, though in this case it’d be more apropos if it were an abbreviated form of confusing or confounding.

A conference record is a portion of an overall record. A team’s overall record is its conference record plus its nonconference record. (Conference Record + Nonconference Record = Overall Record) The numbers on each side of the overall win/loss ledger, therefore, must be equal to or greater than the numbers in the conference and nonconference records. More specifically, if a team has one loss overall, it can’t have two losses in conference. Impossible.

Not according to these standings.

If my alma mater is 5-1 overall and 3-2 against conference opponents, that means Florida has two wins and negative one loss in three nonconference games. That’s a broken record that must be fixed.

Florida has played six games this season, four in conference and two out of conference. Florida is 5-1 overall and 2-0 in nonconference games. So, to set the record straight, Florida is 3-1 in the SEC.

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