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Original Issue

Top Billingsley One of college football's most unlikely kingmakers employs his website to explain his system

Bowl Championship Series founder Roy Kramer has at his disposal
a team of high-powered mathematical minds whose formulas help
determine the BCS participants. Among them are an astrophysicist
(Wes Colley, a professor at M.I.T.), a rocket scientist
(aerospace statistician David Rothman) and a prominent medical
researcher (Peter Wolfe, an associate clinical professor at
UCLA). There's also Richard Billingsley, who doesn't even have a
B.A.: He left Gulf Coast Bible College in Houston after two
years. "I don't like math, and I hate computers," says
Billingsley, an unmarried 50-year-old personnel consultant and
former minister in the United Pentecostal Church.

What he likes is college football. As a teenager in Hugo, Okla.,
Billingsley was frustrated by the imprecision of the AP and UPI
polls, so he devised his own formula for determining the top
team--one based mainly on strength of schedule and recent
performance while minimizing margin of victory. In 1970 he began
circulating his rankings to a network of friends. Billingsley
was first published in the NCAA record book in '94 and was
tapped for the BCS selection team when it was created in '97.
Now the Billingsley Report, updated every Monday, is available
on (the initials stand for College Football Research
Center), on which Billingsley explains what he calls the
"dynamics" of his system in copious detail.

During the season Billingsley spends Saturday watching football
games and devotes the next three days to updating the rankings
and preparing for the following weekend. Did he ever dream he
would have a hand in deciding the national champion? "I have to
say it was a goal," Billingsley says, "but I never imagined that
it would come true."

--John O'Keefe