To the editors.
It was refreshing to read that Ted Cox (The Sports Section, 12/2/88) opposes a playoff system for major college football. Without such a playoff, teams from 17 schools can finish the post-season on a winning note.
That said, Cox's claim that only regional bias can explain West Virginia's being ranked number three rather than number two is nonsense. Thru the end of November, based on a comparison of won-lost records and strength of schedules, I would peg the Mountaineers at number six.
Rating college football teams is hardly a science, and a case can be made for ranking West Virginia as high as third or as low as tenth. Two teams, however, clearly appear to be ahead of the Mountaineers: Notre Dame (same record, tougher schedule) and USC (worse record but much tougher schedule, the toughest schedule of any team with fewer than four losses).
Look at the numbers. Thru the end of November, USC's opponents, when they weren't playing USC, beating non-Division 1-A foes, or playing one another, won 44 games and lost 17, for a winning percentage of 72.1 percent. In the same time period, West Virginia's opponents, when they weren't playing W. Va., beating non-Division 1-A foes, or playing one another, won 19, lost 37, and tied 1, for a winning percentage of 34.2 percent. West Virginia's low ranking does not prove that it is not good, but merely that its schedule has kept it from proving that it is great.
Bertrand A. Rice