17 Jan 2011
In his latest post about college football, Mark Cuban has a new proposal in light of the resistance to an overall playoff.
The biggest problem with the BCS system is that there are no parameters or constraints on who BCS eligible teams schedule. Pretty much every BCS eligible school tries their best to game the system to put themselves in the best position to qualify for a bowl and to go undefeated. Put another way, almost every school schedules at least 2, if not 3 “cupcakes” every year. There in lies the rub of the BCS system. Cupcakes distort the system. Rather than playing games that could further contract the number of teams in the championship hunt, these games increase the number. GIGO.
The way to fix the system is to replace the cupcakes with a mid-season playoff system.
What he then proposes is a three-week mini-playoff in which all undefeated teams play each other, all one-loss teams play each other, etc., over the course of three weeks. The goal is to whittle the field down and make sure that everybody has taken on some elite competition.
All in all, this is really, really unrealistic. Obviously. He proposes that "we ask the BCS to require any school that would like to be considered for the BCS championship game to be leave as open dates on their schedule the 6th, 7th and 8th weeks of the season." That would never happen in a million years. BUT ... would one week be out of the question? Cutting the proceedings to one week would create, in effect, a "BracketBuster" type of event.
College basketball's BracketBuster takes place in mid- to late-February and pits a growing number of mid-major teams against each other. Midway through the season, the pairings are set, based on teams' levels of success to date. This gives mid-majors an opportunity to boost their resumes and, basically, give the NCAA selection committee another tool with which to judge teams from smaller conferences that don't get the opportunity to play that many big games.
It's easy to see how this might work in college football.
1. You make it a two-year (minimum) event. Each team plays a home game one year, a road game the other. Who is playing at home or on the road is set in advance, so you can schedule the rest of your non-conference slate accordingly and make sure you get your preferred number of home games.
2. After seven weeks, when the first BCS rankings are unveiled, you announce the matchups. You can either set them up for Week 8 or, more realistically, you announce them 2-3 weeks out for TV and/or travel purposes. You have any number of options for how to set up the matchups. Here are two possibilities:
* Top-ranked home team versus top-ranked road team, second-ranked home versus second-ranked road, etc. (Since the BCS standings only rank 25 teams, you could use teams' aggregate computer rankings to determine the pairings for teams No. 26-120.) For example, if, say, the top half of FBS teams (according to an alphabetical listing ... and no, they probably wouldn't use the alphabet to decide such a thing, but for randomness' sake, it will do for this example) were home teams and the bottom half road teams, this would have resulted in matchups like this using the first BCS rankings of the season: No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 3 Boise State, No. 2 Oregon at No. 4 Auburn, etc.
* You set up some sort of tier structure (six tiers of 20 teams, maybe?) and do something like what Cuban suggested -- top-ranked home team in one tier versus lowest-ranked road team in the same tier, and down the line. The matchups wouldn't be quite as high-impact this way, but in the above example, you're almost punished by being too highly ranked too soon. Oklahoma was No. 1 in the first BCS standings because they had taken on a pretty difficult schedule, and their reward in this exercise was that they had to go to Boise. Anyway, some example matchups here would be No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 18 Arizona, No. 2 Oregon at No. 17 Florida State, or No. 19 Texas at No. 3 Boise State. There is still plenty of intrigue here, even if some matchups lose luster in the weeks after their announcement (Oklahoma was obviously No. 1 for just one week, and Texas would have long since dropped out of the BCS
There are plenty of other possibilities, obviously.
Cuban's idea itself is not anywhere near realistic, but would a one-week "BCS Buster Saturday" event perhaps be more feasible? Clearly this wouldn't completely satisfy playoff proponents (and in effect, if successful it might take a step toward assuring we might never have a playoff), but it would go a decent way toward evening teams' schedules. Big teams would still have to earn their big-bowl keep (which is probably an obstacle for something like this ever actually happening) and smaller teams would get a chance to prove themselves. Something like this would have obviously helped out a team like TCU, who never had a chance at the BCS title game once both Auburn and Oregon went undefeated (just like last year, when they were stuck in line behind Florida, Texas and even Cincinnati), and the level of intrigue these matchups would provide would be rather incredible. Cuban's overall pitch isn't great, but it does lead to a more reasonable, perhaps just-as-interesting possibility.
37 comments, Last at 06 Nov 2011, 4:40pm by The TRUE BCSBusters Model!
Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?