See also the general description at http://houlgatecollegefootballrankings.com/about.
The Houlgate sytstem was created by my grandfather, Carroll Everard "Deke" Houlgate, a noted football journalist and statistician. His system was in vogue from the 1920s through the 1950's. He died in 1959, shortly after my first birthday.
I use Excel to crunch the numbers. During my grandfather's time, he took my Dad, who was just a boy to USC football games on Saturdays and while the game was going on, they would get out their pencils and hand calculate the rankings as they became aware of the scores coming in from across the country. They even brought their television set to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and plugged it into an outlet to get scores before the SC game started.
Here's what I do:
I have two sections on a worksheet and they work together in an integrated manner. Formulas in one section affect formulas in the other section, but without circular references. The first section is a grid listing each team in separate rows in alphabetical order. On each row are the team's wins, losses, letter grade and ranking points.
The second section has each team's game data. A team's games are grouped together and the groups are ordered alphabetically starting with Air Force and ending with Wyoming. Each row within a team's grouping has the opponent, the score, Whether the opponent is FBS (1A) or FCS (1AA), the team's result (W or L) and the letter grade of their opponent. The next two columns are counters for wins and losses. The first section, described above sums up those counters to determine the team's overall won-loss record, which determines its letter grade. That letter grade also plugs into the formula in the second section where the team is an opponent of another team.
Back to the second section. Following the won-loss counter columns, there are a series of columns with calculation formulas that determine the ranking points gained or lost in the games represented in the rows. The ranking points are qualified by the letter grades of the opponents. The last column in the second section sums up the ranking points for the row.
Back to the first section - The ranking point totals are acquired by summing the game row ranking points in the second section.
I use If-then-else formulas in Excel, primarily to calculate the results and later order the rankings with most points at the top and least points at the bottom.
What happens as the season progresses is that ranking points gained in one game one week may and often does decrease. They can never increase, but ranking points constantly change because when teams lose their letter grades degrade.
John Houlgate / john_houlgate AT yahoo DOT com