Frequently Asked Questions

The Dunkel Index

What is the Dunkel Index?
The Dunkel Index is a system for rating the relative strengths of sports teams based on a set of mathematical equations.

How does it work?
The Index looks at the performance of teams after every game and adjusts the ratings to reflect either positive or negative outcomes.

What is a team’s “rating”?
The “rating” is the power number given to each team. The higher the rating, the better the team.

Is there a certain way to read the ratings?
Yes, the ratings have been calculated so as to easily interpret the relative strengths of teams. For example, a team with a rating of 70.0 (Team A) is 10 points better than a team with a rating of 60.0 (Team B). In other words, according to the Index, Team A should beat Team B by 10 points if they were to play at a neutral site.

Can the ratings be used to predict outcomes?
The Dunkel Index has proven to be an extremely accurate forecaster of future events. Over the course of a season the Index will average approximately 80 percent accuracy on straight wins and losses. Against other forecasting systems, the Index compares favorably as well.

What’s the difference between the Index and other rating services?
Generally speaking, the Index weights two factors more heavily than others: strength of schedule and recent performance. The strength of schedule component rewards teams that play against strong competition regardless of their won/loss record. The emphasis on recent performance enables the Index to reflect recent trends that make it a better predictive model.

How did the Index get started?
Dick Dunkel, Sr., developed the formulas in 1929 as a means to settle the debate over which teams were the best at the time.

Who runs the Index today?
Dick Dunkel, Jr., ran the Index from 1972 until his death in 2003. Today the Index is run by his two sons, Bob and Richard. They represent the third generation of Dunkel ownership.

Is the Dunkel Index still a part of the BCS?
From 1999 through 2001, the Dunkel Index was one of the computer services used by the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) to determine the national championship for college football. At the conclusion of the 2001 season, the BCS determined that it did not want scoring margins used in any of the computer calculations. The Index does use scoring margin and, after informing the BCS that its removal would make for a more inaccurate system, decided to leave the BCS rather than compromise the accuracy of the ratings.

What is your view of the BCS?
Even with the removal of scoring margin, the BCS is a good system asked to do a nearly impossible task – select the top two teams in the nation from a much larger pool. We believe the only equitable way to determine the national champion is to enlarge the number of teams selected and use a playoff format.

How can I get in touch with the Index?
You can email us at any time at We will answer all your emails as quickly as possible.