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 cfrc.com (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."