Alabama Football: ESPN owns up to FPI mistakes in preseason rankings

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports /

Like many other college football fans, followers of Alabama Football sometimes shake their heads at the ESPN FPI. One reason is the algorithm is closely guarded by ESPN. Predicting any future outcome carries inherent murkiness, but little transparency by ESPN suggests the FPI is more sizzle than substance.

The week ESPN had to acknowledge its 2021 preseason FPI rankings were flawed.

"… the Football Power Index in April contained data and modeling errors. We have remedied the issues and are re-releasing FPI …"

Props to ESPN for owning up to the mistakes, but they had no choice to salvage any integrity of the FPI.

A couple of months ago, we commented on the preseason FPI. Like many college football fans, the ranking of Mississippi State at No. 8 was a shock. In the ‘new’ preseason rankings, ESPN has the Bulldogs at No. 24.

Despite the theme of this post, there is little value in debating predictions. Every entity following college football – and also every fan – is entitled to an opinion. If forced to choose between the Bulldogs finishing the 2021 season at No. 8 or last in the SEC West, the choice would be easy. Take Mississippi State as the SEC West cellar-dwellers. That too is just an opinion.

Presuming ESPN is serious about the accuracy of the FPI, some of the amended rankings are questionable. The Auburn Tigers at No. 15 appears inflated, for a team going through a rocky transition, and that could easily lose five or six games.

At No. 40, the Kentucky Wildcats could be undervalued. Mark Stoops’ squad will likely challenge either Missouri or Florida to be the third-best team in the SEC East. ESPN not calculating much difference between the Georgia Bulldogs and Texas A&M is solid. Kirby Smart’s group is one notch higher than the Aggies at No. 5, but just barely.

The amended FPI still has New Mexico State at No. 130. That ranking could be the most accurate one in the ESPN predictions. Another Alabama Crimson Tide, out-of-conference opponent, Southern Mississippi was upgraded by ESPN from No. 112 to No. 109.

The lowest-ranked SEC team on the Alabama Football schedule is Tennessee at No. 47. No debate is offered on that prediction, but Missouri (not on the Tide schedule) at No. 46 indicates the two teams will be almost equal. Offering a counter opinion, the Tigers should handle the Vols with ease.

The FPI and other Alabama Football Opponents

  • Miami Hurricanes – No. 10
  • Florida Gators – No. 11
  • LSU Tigers – No. 18
  • Ole Miss – No. 20
  • Arkansas Razorbacks – No. 36
  • Mercer – as an FCS team, the Bears are not ranked in the FPI

The Canes jumped up from No. 20 in the earlier FPI. Miami should be much improved but that is quite a leap.

Next. Returning production for all FBS teams. dark

The Tide’s opener with Miami will be broadcast by one of the Disney empire networks, ABC. ABC and ESPN channels are under Disney’s broad umbrella.