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09 Oct 2006

Confessions of a Football Junkie: Chaos? Good.

by Russell Levine

In college football, a sport where champions are calculated as much as they are crowned, it takes a little chaos in September, October, and November to avoid anarchy in January.

An upset-free September had led to dire predictions of multiple undefeated teams. That is the ultimate doomsday scenario for the Bowl Championship Series, which relies on a combination of human and computer polls to set up a 1-vs.-2 matchup in its championship game.

But all it took was one chaotic Saturday to begin to clarify things. The day's play began with 13 undefeated teams and ended with nine -- and the promise of even fewer in the coming weeks. There was but one sizable upset, visiting Arkansas's stunning 27-10 thumping of Auburn, but one-loss Cal took out undefeated Oregon, and Tennessee and Clemson did the same to Georgia and upstart Wake Forest, respectively. Arkansas's win further clarified matters because it put the Razorbacks in control of the SEC West and likely knocked Auburn out of BCS championship contention.

Twice in its history has a team failed to win its conference and still qualified for the BCS title game, but in both cases (Nebraska in 2001 and Oklahoma in 2003) the schools lost their final games of the year, after they had built up a big enough lead in the BCS standings to withstand the defeat. Auburn's scenario is different -- it will be trying to climb back up the standings throughout the season's second half, likely without the benefit of playing in the SEC title game.

Eight of the nine remaining unbeatens hail from the six BCS automatic-bid conferences. Three are from the Big East (Louisville, Rutgers, and West Virginia), and a coming round-robin among the three means that at most one will remain perfect. In the Big Ten, Michigan and Ohio State are 6-0 and play each other to conclude the regular season. USC is the only undefeated team left in the Pac-10, but must still face Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame in back-to-back-to-back games to end its season. Florida likewise stands alone atop the SEC, but visits Auburn and plays Georgia in its next two contests. Missouri's 6-0 start is a nice story in the Big 12, but no one will pay much attention unless the Tigers beat both Nebraska and Oklahoma in the coming weeks. The WAC's Boise State is the ninth unbeaten, but the Broncos are playing for an at-large bid in any BCS game, not the championship.

Add it all up, and suddenly the doom-and-gloom predictions of four or five undefeated teams become a little more far-fetched. Remaining games already dictate a maximum of four unbeatens from the six BCS conferences, and that number is likely to drop due to the law of averages as much as anything else.

Of course, multiple undefeated teams do not result in the only problematic outcome for the BCS. In its first eight years, that situation has happened but once among BCS-conference teams: when Auburn, USC, and Oklahoma all ran the table in 2004, leaving Auburn shut out of the title game. Far more likely is the situation with only one unbeaten team, leaving a bunch of legitimate contenders for the second spot. That outcome has plagued the BCS three times. Still, having once-beaten teams argue about whose loss is more impressive is far more palatable than having an undefeated team question what it could have done differently to reach the championship game.

Even if the latter storyline plays out this fall, the likelihood is that the team left out of the mix would be the undefeated Big East champion, either Louisville or West Virginia (it would be a major stretch to think Rutgers could beat both the Cardinals and the Mountaineers). While both might wonder aloud what they could have done differently, the answer will be obvious to everyone not associated with either school: play a tougher schedule.

To its credit, Louisville played Miami this season; it just had the misfortune to catch perhaps the worst Hurricanes team in a generation. Of the other nine non-conference games Louisville and West Virginia played this season, the toughest opponent is perhaps Maryland, no better than a middling team in a weak ACC. West Virginia played Division I-AA Eastern Washington, as well as Mississippi State, one of the worst BCS conference teams in America. Louisville's SEC opponent, Kentucky, wasn't much better, and the Cardinals also took on Temple, which might be the worst Division I-A team of the last 30 years, as well as the likes of Middle Tennessee and Kansas State.

If all those clamoring for a playoff would take a step back and observe the larger picture, they might come to the same conclusion that many others have: College football already has a playoff. It's called the regular season. Win all your games, and the odds are very strong that you'll play for the championship. Only Auburn -- and the "mid-majors" from the WAC, the Mountain West, etc. -- can complain otherwise. Auburn's snubbing two years ago was a rare misfortune.

The playoff we have is not ideal, but neither is any proposal that has been floated. Even if all the major obstacles -- television contracts, the bowl system, extending the season, etc. -- are thrown out, there is still no good way to have an all-inclusive playoff system in a sport with 119 teams and a 12- or 13-game regular season. Creating an eight- or 16-team playoff might lessen the controversy since the arguments would be about "who's number 16" instead of "who's number two," but controversy would nonetheless remain.

College football is unique among major sports in how it determines its champion -- for good or bad. In the rush to make it just like every other sport, we should consider exactly what might be lost in doing so. Would Auburn's loss to Arkansas Saturday have meant as much if the Tigers knew they still had a good shot at making the playoff field?

As it stands, every game for the contenders is a must-win. Saturday channel surfers see brewing upsets on the score ticker and immediately seek out the game in question. Championship scenarios based on assumed results in dozens of games must be immediately recalculated.

College football is not just rife with controversy. Controversy is the oxygen that fuels the sport's fire, and maybe that's the way it should be.

John L. Smith Trophy

No JLS for JLS this week. Sure, his Spartans looked ill-prepared to play Michigan this week, but it wasn't necessarily coaching decisions. Still, the Spartans have the look of a team that has packed it in and tuned out its coaches. The Michigan State performance against Michigan was a folly worth of Yakety Sax, including penalties aplenty, special teams blunders, and general signs of incompetence. It doesn't look good for JLS in East Lansing.

Instead, this week's JLS Trophy goes to Washington's Tyrone Willingham. This is a tough call because Willingham has made incredible strides with Washington this year and is generally proving that he's a pretty good coach. Also, upon further review, I've revised my analysis of the final-play sequence against USC (from this weekend's Seventh Day Adventure discussion thread.) The timekeeper did needlessly let about three seconds run off the clock, but it should have been a moot point. The umpire was standing over the ball, awaiting the winding of the clock. Washington knew enough to run a play and not attempt to spike the ball with just two seconds left. Yet somehow, the Huskies didn't get a play off, mostly because Willingham got caught up in arguing over the clock.

There was no need to argue. Five seconds or two seconds, they were still only getting one attempt at the end zone and the tie. Washington's complaints about the referees would carry a lot more weight if they got even remotely close to getting a snap off; instead the tackle was still getting into his stance as the final two seconds ran off. For this, I can only blame Willingham, and give him the JLS Trophy.

Still, I'm impressed with what he's done in Seattle. This is his element: program-building. His strengths were not a good match for the Notre Dame job. He's much better either competing at a place like Stanford where there are talent and academic hurdles to overcome, or resurrecting a downtrodden program like Washington by getting players to buy in.

BlogPoll Ballot

This season, I'll again be voting in the BlogPoll, hosted by MGoBlog. I'll post my ballot in Junkie each week. Feel free to comment — my rankings may change based upon your suggestions.

Rankings that may require some explanation include:

  • Florida moves ahead of Michigan based on the totality of its resume at the season's halfway point. See, I'm not a complete homer.
  • Really, beyond about the top eight, it's still largely a crapshoot. I know Arkansas is probably too high, but I can't put them in the poll behind an Auburn team they just hammered on the road.
  • I haven't had a clue about Iowa all season. I was underrating them for a while, no I'm probably overrating them. I'll let you know after the Michigan game.
  • Washington hangs on for coming thisclose against USC
Rank Team Delta
1 Ohio State --
2 Florida 2
3 Michigan 1
4 Southern Cal 1
5 West Virginia 1
6 Louisville 1
7 Texas 5
8 Clemson 2
9 Tennessee 4
10 California 5
11 Notre Dame 5
12 Arkansas 14
13 Auburn 10
14 Georgia Tech 3
15 Nebraska 3
16 Iowa 8
17 LSU 9
18 Boise State 1
19 Missouri 4
20 Oregon 11
21 Virginia Tech 1
22 Georgia 8
23 Oklahoma 12
24 Rutgers 1
25 Washington 3

Dropped Out: Florida State (#21).

Posted by: Russell Levine on 09 Oct 2006

129 comments, Last at 12 Oct 2006, 10:44pm by Peter

Comments

1
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 6:58pm

Wisconsin had one bad half against Michigan. I know folks are going to dismiss the quality of the other competition but is getting waxed for two quarters by one of the best teams in the country really such a horrible thing?

If Paul Hubbard doesn't inexplicably drop two caught passes for fumbles in the first half Wisconsin puts up 50 plus on the Mildcats.

So if they beat the Gophers this week does it mean anything or will the explanation that Mason's bunch is still suffering a hangover from the heartbreaker to Penn State?

Just curious. Because after regarding the Badgers with trepidation the team is really starting to make me a believer that they could go into the Penn State game with just the one loss.

2
by DMP (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 7:15pm

Yakety Sax... fantastic. Even my Michigan grad wife, who is usually heartfeltly consoling of my Michigan Statedness, couldn't muster up an effort to comfort me this past weekend. I'm guessing she felt if MSU won't even try, then neither will she.

Seriously, at this point it may have even been better to have George Perles out there (yikes). At least we know he would have run Jehuu Caulcrik about 238 times in the last three games.

3
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 7:33pm

I find the BCS possibilities interesting, as USC retained its #2 ranking in the Coaches' and Harris polls this week (i.e. the polls that decide the championship participants), while Florida leapfrogged to take #2 in the AP poll.

It will be interesting to see what happens with those as the season continues. The coaches seem far more reluctant to drop a team that wins regardless of the quality of the win, whereas the AP, perhaps because of the greater freedom its now non-BCS-status provides, has been much more chaotic and interesting.

We shall see.

4
by Jim Haug (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 7:39pm

Right on about the Big East. The top four (I include Pitt/alumnus homerus)are all good, if flawed teams. Pitt played the best out of conference schedule, facing "Good Mich St." and Virginia in a down year, along with two MACs, a USA and a AA. The Rutgers game should be fascinating. There will be few matchups of 7-0 vs. 6-1 that draw less press. Look for Pitt to use its excellent special teams and the slow track at Heinz to steal a game at home from the undefeateds. They are the potential spanner in the works to prevent the champ from being undefeated.

5
by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 8:30pm

The playoff we have is not ideal, but neither is any proposal that has been floated. Even if all the major obstacles — television contracts, the bowl system, extending the season, etc. — are thrown out, there is still no good way to have an all-inclusive playoff system in a sport with 119 teams and a 12- or 13-game regular season. Creating an eight- or 16-team playoff might lessen the controversy since the arguments would be about “who’s number 16″ instead of “who’s number two,� but controversy would nonetheless remain.

Nonsense. An 11 conference champs + 5 at-large (chosen by a basketball-style committee) 16-team playoff would always include all the legit title contenders (and a few pretenders in the form of minor conference champions). If we used your BlogPoll entry to pick them, we'd add Michigan, Louisville, Tennessee, Cal, and Notre Dame to the conference leaders of Ohio State, Florida, West Virginia, USC, Texas, Clemson, Boise State, and whoever winds up winning the MWC, MAC, CUSA, and Sun Belt.

Besides, contraversy about who's number 16 in football, like contraversy about who's number 64/65 in basketball, isn't all that important; everyone knows the last team in is going down in the first round anyway, short of a George Mason-esque miracle run (which still ended short of the final). Contraversy about who's #1 (or if the real #2 got a shot at #1) affects the legitimacy of the sport in a much more significant way.

6
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 8:35pm

The AP and Coaches polls make NO sense. How can Auburn be ranked FAR ahead of Arkansas?

I was about to say that Missouri was ranked too low, but there isn't a team I can conclusively point to and say "Missouri is better".

Just for kicks, my Top 25:

1. Ohio State
2. Southern Cal
3. Florida
4. Michigan
5. Louisville
6. Texas
7. Tennessee
8. West Virginia
9. Arkansas
10. Notre Dame
11. Missouri
12. Iowa
13. California
14. Nebraska
15. Auburn
16. Georgia Tech
17. Oregon
18. Clemson
19. LSU
20. Oklahoma
21. Boise State
22. Georgia
23. Boston College
24. Washington
25. Virginia Tech

7
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 8:45pm

#5: I like the current system in football.

If there were a playoff, this week's Auburn v Arkansas game wouldn't have mattered.

The thing I like best about college football is that every game counts. I wouldn't want a college basketball atmosphere where a team that wins 65% of it's games can get into the tournament and win the title.

8
by the fumble (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 8:54pm

What if all teams were to schedule only 6 games? Then after these games, all teams would be thrown into 5 or 6 different brackets. Each bracket would proceed in a Swiss Format schedule. Everyone plays the same number of games (12 or 13), everyone can play in some sort of a bowl game versus a proper opponent, therefore the bowl structure still stays intact. The final game is the National Championship game pitting the two best teams. The teams get the revenue from playing all the games, the proper national champion is almost mathematically assured of being crowned. And fans don't have to spend time or money or effort paying attention to clunkers like Penn St/Youngstown St or Oklahoma/Middle Tennessee St.

9
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 8:57pm

I dunno, if those not clamoring for a playoff would step back and take in the larger picture, maybe they would see that having three one loss teams in eight years denied a chance to play for the trophy, because somebody somewhere had an opinion that their one loss was worse than somebody else's one loss, perhaps they'd see that in many years nobody "wins" a national championship; they just get to hoist a trophy.

College Presidents and the NCAA have thir gig, and they can do whatever they want, but an eight team playoff reserved solely for conference champs (if one wanted to do nine with a play-in game, fine), would make every conference game every bit as vital as they are now. Make the seeding, with first round home field advantage, dependent of the number of quality performances against top notch competition, with zero credit given to beating cellar-dwellars, and you could increase the number of good interconference match-ups, and decrease the worst part of college football, which is completely non-competitive games.

10
by Lee (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 8:58pm

Did Iowa's performance really justify an 8-slot jump?

11
by Jerrard (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 8:59pm

I always evoke the totality of reume argument when ranking teams. I wish more of the actual voters did the same. The "this team IS better" argument seems rebutted by "why doesn't it show on their resume?"

12
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:06pm

If only the SEC champ was eligible for that playoff, the Arkansas/Auburn game most certainly would have mattered. The Texas/Ohio State game would have mattered less, but with the right playoff structure, it still would matter quite a bit, and we would get fewer Texas/Northwest Southwest Louisiana Polytechnic blowouts. I know a lot of the boosters love those 73-3 games, so they'll always be with us, but gosh, what a bore they are for anyone who enjoys football competiton.

13
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:12pm

Will, you're great. I have a really high opinion of you.

But you know what? Just because we have different viewpoints doesn't necessarily mean that I haven't looked at the larger picture.

Is the current system 100% fair, 100% of the time? No system is. For example, who really thinks the Sun Belt or MAC champion is more deserving of the #2 team in the SEC? Just last year that would have had Arkansas State or Akron in the tournament ahead of Ohio State.

14
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:29pm

Kevin, I was just mirroring the slightly condescending tone adopted by Russell in the article, which didn't irritate me, but did make me think it was worthy of a tweak. Nope, no system is 100% fair, but I'd rather have a conference championship be an absolute requirement, and I'd rather not give some SID with a hangover input as to who "wins" the national title.

15
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:32pm

And fans don’t have to spend time or money or effort paying attention to clunkers like Penn St/Youngstown St

Penn State/Youngstown State happened because of a scheduling problem when the WAC decided to add a playoff and La. Tech had to back out, and there were no D-IA schools left that they could easily reach an agreement with.

Same thing happened to South Carolina, which did the exact same thing. It's more common than you realize.

As long as you've got teams creating their own schedules while simultaneously being forced into schedules by their conference, you'll get situations like this. Scheduling college football games is difficult because of the money involved.

16
by Russell Levine :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:34pm

Re: 5

Dave, you might be right, except the devil is in the details. Where do you propose to play these four rounds of games? What happens to the bowls? If they are to go out of business, whose paying them off to do so? If they are to be used for the playoff rounds, how do you propose to fill 70,000 seats for a neutral site first round game? Everybody argues that fans and alums travel to successive destinations for the NCAA basketball tournament, but in the first round, each venue has eight teams with which to fill anywhere from 15,000 to 40,000 seats, and even then can't always pull it off.

I'm not saying it's impossible, but there are HUGE obstacles to be overcome.

17
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:38pm

Also, if what I propose were combined with cutting scholorships another 10%, we'd likely see more even talent distribution throughout college football, with more competitive contests a result.

18
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:47pm

I’d rather have a conference championship be an absolute requirement, and I’d rather not give some SID with a hangover input as to who “wins� the national title.

I respectfully disagree, since it concentrates on one piece of the picture (the conference) rather than the entire picture.

In 2003 people asked "how can Oklahoma be in the National Title Game when they didn't even win their own conference?". I asked people why losing to Kansas State was that much worse than a loss to UCLA, Alabama, Fresno, or North Texas (all non-conference opponents on OU's 2003 schedule) would have been.

In other words, a loss to UCLA would be acceptable, but a loss to Kansas State would not. I disagree(d) with that idea.

I like the current system. We've already had preliminary playoff games: Michigan v Notre Dame, Texas v Oklahoma, Auburn v LSU, Texas v Ohio State, etc.

The real playoff games come soon: Michigan v OSU should be a playoff game. Ditto Louisville v West Virginia, USC v Notre Dame, etc.

19
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:48pm

Yes, WVU and Louisville should be playing tougher schedules this year, but it's not totally a case of either team looking to schedule the barkingest dogs they could. I believe that both were left in the lurch when Virginia Tech and Boston College departed from the Big East Conference, leaving West Virginia and Louisville to scramble to fill those slots. That being said, if one of them goes undefeated but is left out in the cold because other undefeated teams have played tougher schedules, well, that's the way it goes.

20
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:48pm

Re: college scheduling.

I hate Alabama's non-conference schedule this season, but the AD Mal Moore knew that 4 road games against Florida, Tennessee, LSU, and Arkansas-we needed cupcakes like Duke, Florida International, Hawaii, and UL-Monroe.

2007 Alabama plays Florida State at a neutral site (not sure if thats a big game anymore either) and they will play Penn State someday soon (I think it got pushed to 2009-2010...)

Arkansas at 9? They got stomped by USC, barely beat Vandy and should have lost to Bama at home. I know beating the #2 team in the country on the road is a big deal, but I thought they were an overrated #2 team (hindsight being 20/20-I thought there was no way they stay undefeated this whole season....)

Interesting stat: Tommy Tuberville and Mike Shula have the same amount of 10 win seasons...

21
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:51pm

I dunno, if those not clamoring for a playoff would step back and take in the larger picture, maybe they would see that having three one loss teams in eight years denied a chance to play for the trophy, because somebody somewhere had an opinion that their one loss was worse than somebody else’s one loss, perhaps they’d see that in many years nobody “wins� a national championship; they just get to hoist a trophy.

Eh. You're kindof screwed no matter what. You've got 119 teams, and a 16-game playoff isn't happening in college football. Moreover, I'm not sure it should - I kindof agree that the "you can't ever lose" bit is nice, and more importantly, teams really don't have the ability to whine that they should be considered for the National Championship if they've got losses - because they could've done something. I'm pretty sure there's a quote from Friday Night Lights about this, and I agree.

No-loss teams complaining is one thing, which is why either a play-in game or a 4-team playoff is a good solution. A play-in game would probably be a pretty equitable solution, and you could have minimum schedule quality criteria to avoid having to have crappy play-in games.

The main problem I have is this quote:

To its credit, Louisville played Miami this season; it just had the misfortune to catch perhaps the worst Hurricanes team in a generation.

So Louisville did what Russell asked, and they're still screwed. That's just not right. They scheduled that game years in advance, and in some sense, Louisville's getting penalized because people perceive the Big East as weak. Just like last year, USC was getting a boost because people perceived the PAC-10 as full of good teams.

The computer rankings don't work for unbeatens. This is just true from the math - it's more of a lower limit than it is a measurement, like it is for teams with a loss. And the polls have inertia biases. I'm constantly amazed there isn't more outrage from the Auburn/Oklahoma/USC incident two years ago.

22
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:52pm

Also, if what I propose were combined with cutting scholorships another 10%, we’d likely see more even talent distribution throughout college football, with more competitive contests a result.

Ugh. Let's take something else away from the players that are undercompensated to begin with.

Sorry to open up that bag of worms.

But going along with the idea, why not have a college football salary cap? Say, $5 M per D-1 team.

Since we all love it so much in the NFL...

(Posted in a semi-facetious manner...)

23
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:03pm

Well, like I said, Kevin I'd rather maximize the importance of conference games, because I think that is the real tradition of college football. If somebody doesn't share this goal, I can certainly see why they would disagree.

There is no doubt in my mind, also, from a business perspective, that if my proposal were taken up by a Dick Ebersol, within ten years the college game could make truly gigantic gains in televison revenues. All the conferences with championship games would have huge television events, and a game like what the Ohio State/Michigan game will likely be this year wouldn't lose a thing. The playoffs would dominate eyeballs in December, and a properly marketed championship game on Jan. 1 or 2 would have a build up like last year's game, except every year. Heck, there could still be a bunch of preliminary bowl games which would be every bit a significant as they are now.

24
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:12pm

Well, the biggest reason I'll never be as big a college football fan is because I don't like how so many players are screwed by the institutions. If a percentage of the t.v. revenue went into one pot, and all the players received a very substantial stipend, I'd feel better about the game. Anyways, smaller rosters, which is really what I was geting at, wouldn't mean any player was getting more screwed than is the case now. I don't really want to debate paying college players, however.

25
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:20pm

I don’t really want to debate paying college players, however.

We are SO in agreement.

Anyway, since 1998 (when the current deal started) only one team has had a semi-legitimate beef that they belonged: 2004 Auburn.

But no one could seriously argue that AU belonged ahead of USC or Oklahoma. Auburn's NC schedule consisted of Louisiana-Monroe, The Citadel, and Louisiana Tech.

26
by the fumble (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:58pm

#15 - I understand why PSU/YSU happened. But it's not like Penn State/La Tech would have been stellar either.

27
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:07pm

But no one could seriously argue that AU belonged ahead of USC or Oklahoma.

Sure you can. There was no evidence that they belonged behind them.

Besides, what happens when there is a situation where there are three unbeatens with equal claim? It's not like we didn't come ridiculously close last year. To think that it's never going to happen is just naive. It will.

28
by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:17pm

Dave, you might be right, except the devil is in the details. Where do you propose to play these four rounds of games?

First round is at the home sites for the higher seeds (weakly regionalize teams into an East and West bracket), next three rounds are at bowl sites. At least until the tournament's established; the NCAA basketball tournament started the same way (and the women's tournament was that way until last year).

(Yes, I've thought a lot about this; why do you ask?)

What happens to the bowls? If they are to go out of business, whose paying them off to do so?

Most of them are only marginally profitable (if they're profitable at all) anyway. Take the top 6 (the BCS bowls plus two more) and co-opt them as playoff game sites; rotate the championship site.

And the lesser bowls may very well stay around, much like the NIT has; only sixteen teams are in the championship tournament. That leaves a lot of other teams to play one game New Year's week.

Or ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox could just buy out some of the bowls; it's chump change compared what CBS spends on rights fees for the basketball tournament.

If they are to be used for the playoff rounds, how do you propose to fill 70,000 seats for a neutral site first round game?

Well, I don't, at least not for a while. After a decade or so, the NCAA Football Tournament and December Madness will be as big as the NCAA Basketball Tournament and March Madness, and then they can start thinking about neutral-site first round games. But to start with, the top seeds get a home game.

* * * * * *

If there were a playoff, this week’s Auburn v Arkansas game wouldn’t have mattered.

Well, in my playoff it would, because it would have nearly knocked Auburn out of the running for the SEC's automatic bid as conference champ, and badly damaged their shot as an at-large team. What a playoff would do is mean one bad regular season game, especially out of conference, isn't fatal to a team's national championship aspirations.

The thing I like best about college football is that every game counts. I wouldn’t want a college basketball atmosphere where a team that wins 65% of it’s games can get into the tournament and win the title.

... and this would be possible in my playoffs. The minor conference champs quite often won't be very good. And even the major conferences will have confabs like the 2004 Big East or the 2005 ACC where a less than stellar team wins the conference title. But then they'll have to win a game on the road against a top-8 team to get a chance to go farther; it won't happen very often. Teams like 2006 George Mason are few and far between in basketball, and 6th-seeded Super Bowl winners are rare in the NFL.

29
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:53pm

There was no evidence that they belonged behind them.

It depends on how one uses the term "evidence".

What is the "evidence" that NFL Team A with a 9 - 7 mark deserves in the playoffs ahead of another 9 - 7 team?

What is the "evidence" that a 92 win NL West team deserves to be in the playoffs more than an 89 win AL East team?

I could go on and on, but the fact remains- THE RULES ARE THE RULES. In the NFL an 11 - 5 team gets in ahead of a 10 - 6 team regardless of schedule or circumstances. That's the formula and no one bitches about it. Play well enough and you're in. If you don't meet the standard of the formula, Happy Holidays at home with the wife and kids.

The NCAA has a formula as well. For whatever reason, this formula is constantly questioned. But it's no less reasonable than the formulas every other sport uses.

30
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:21am

29: the NFL system is strictly related to conference and record, and it also gives 12 of 32 teams a shot. The NCAA system is based off of subjective human and highly flawed computer ratings. While I agree that the system works reasonably well, AU running the table in the SEC is far more impressive to me than USC or OU running the table in the Big 12 or PAC 10.

31
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:22am

Kevin, rules are not a form of evidence.

32
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:23am

Re #29
Isn't that part of the reason we have DVOA, though? Because the Patriots in 2002 were better than they were in 2001 in the regular season, but the latter team made the playoffs and the former didn't. The beter team doesn't always make the playoffs in the NFL, and sometimes it's frustrating as all hell. Difference is, in the NFL you have a constrained universe of 32 teams and are guaranteed 3+ common opponents and most of the rest of the games are once removed. In college, though, you're lucky if you have a single common opponent to compare two non-conference teams. With 119 I-A teams and a 12 game schedule, you just can't accumulate enough good data to be very sure.

33
by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:31am

Ouch. Oregon drops 11 after losing to a pretty good Cal team. They gave the game away in the first half and then watched as their season long achilles heel (run defense) never gave them a chance in the second half. They'll probably end the season in the mid-teen range, depending on whether they go 10-2 or 9-3. I think you dropped them a little too far, but they have the chance to play their way back up.

I think an 8 team playoff format would be better, but the logistic issues really screw with everything. I'm not sure I've seen a very good solution to this part of the problem, and I can understand the reluctance by many decision makers to make it happen. I agree that the arguments surrounding college football's rankings and champions is part of the fun, but of course it would be nice to actually settle these kinds of arguments on the field.

34
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:32am

To further explain, it is impossible in any other system except college football to be tied for the best winning percentage, or nearly impossible in any system except college football to be tied for 2nd best winning percentage, and be denied a chance to compete for the championship. This may be why so many view the college football system as inadequate.

35
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:42am

One problem not usually mentioned with a playoff system, is that you could have teams meeting three times -- once in conference play, once in the conference championship game, and once in the playoffs. It's quite concievable that a team could beat another twice in the regular season, lose once in the playoffs, and be denied the championship.

Only allowing conference champions in as much as says the two best teams can't be in the same conference, which is equally inaccurate.

A semi-compromise would be to find some way to incentivize tougher non-conference games. Making 1-AA wins not count toward bowl eligibility would be a start.

36
by Solomon (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:56am

Everyone is obsessed with determining number one. I may be in the minority here, but I used to take comfort in knowing that if Ohio State won the Big Ten, it earned a trip to the Rose Bowl.

I am satisfied with a Buckeye season that accomplishes the following:
1. Victory over the School Up North.
2. Outright Big Ten title.
3. Rose Bowl victory.

National titles are great, and I will always remember the 2002 season fondly. However, I enjoyed the Rose Bowl after the 1996 season without losing sleep over whether or not the Buckeyes could have beaten Florida that year. There is something special about the Rose Bowl that the Fiesta Bowl does not have.

37
by Peter (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:58am

35: I don't see this as a problem. In the NFL, teams in the same division play each other twice; it's possible to lose to your rival twice, win the wild card, and then defeat them in the playoffs. Would we declare that champion illegitimate?

Americans really, really like tournaments and playoffs, believing in 'head to head' even where it makes less sense. In European soccer leagues, champions are the teams with the best regular season records. There are tournaments, and they carry some prestige, but the biggest honor is to have the best regular-season record. Honestly doesn't this make more sense, at least in sports where you play a lot of games, like basketball or baseball? Football is different because of the small sample size, which is why a playoff is kind of necessary. Given that requirement, it should be as inclusive as is reasonably practical to get the most teams a chance to prove their worthiness (since we seem to be in agreement that the regular season doesn't accomplish that).

I like Dave's plan just fine... though I think there should be a sixteen team tournament with only guaranteed qualifiers for the six major conferences. The other ten spots and seedings are determined by a committee much like basketball. Unlike basketball, where there are plenty of spots to give even to mediocre major-conference teams, unless we expand the field to 32 or so, you're going to be shunning teams that are MUCH, MUCH better than, say, the Sun Belt champ.

The argument that the regular season is less significant is silly. To qualify, you have to win games. Sure, losing one game doesn't cripple your chance at a title, but it's nice to play 16-seed Arkansas or whoever instead of 3-seed USC. If you aren't in the top 2, maybe 3 of your conference, you aren't going to the playoffs, so losing more than 2 is probably it. Conferences will also not lose their prestige; they haven't in basketball, that's for sure.

I would also like to say that Pat is right when he claims there will inevitably be an odd man out to any non-playoff championship method. His suggestion of a 4-team playoff doesn't help much though, because in the Auburn situation, there would be multiple teams equally qualified for the #4 slot, and the controversy continues. However, as someone (Dave?) pointed out, controversy over the #16 team or even the #4 team is a lot better than controversy over #2, when only #1 and #2 matter.

38
by Peter (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:02am

Oh, one other thing... filling venues would NOT be difficult. Is it a serious suggestion that it would be HARD to fill a stadium for a playoff game? It's at least as intense as the biggest in-season games (except conference championships and rivalries), and in the later rounds will be the biggest games of the year. Would OSU v. GT or Nebraska, with playoff life on the line, NOT be a big game? The only way you run into trouble is actually with Dave's system, when you have meaningless 1v16 matchups against opponents who don't deserve to be there, like North Texas or Marshall or whoever. I agree with him, however, that after ten years even that game will be huge just because it's a tournament game. I'd love to go to a 1v16 NCAA Bball game.

39
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:21am

The NCAA system is based off of subjective human and highly flawed computer ratings.

Can we stop calling them computer ratings? They're not computers. I could compute most of the rankings on graph paper by hand, with no computer needed. They're statistical rankings.

The NFL actually uses even more highly flawed statistical rankings in its tiebreakers. It's the 5th and 6th tiebreakers, but they are there: strength of victory, and strength of schedule. Both of those are pathetic statistical rankings compared to the typical NCAA rankings, which are based on very sound, fundamental mathematics from hundreds of years ago. And no, they're not flawed because they can't contain point margin or strength of victory, regardless of the header on Sagarin's website. Laplace's method (which is what virtually every ranking other than the wackball Billingsley rankings is based one) doesn't contain a possibility for bias, unlike rankings which attempt to measure strength of victory.

There are many things to criticize about the NCAA, but using advanced statistical rankings is not one of them.

40
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:28am

To further explain, it is impossible in any other system except college football to be tied for the best winning percentage

Careful with 'impossible'. It's unlikely, but not impossible, in every sport. All of the NFL could go 8-8. Every team in MLB could go 0.500. In most sports it's actually a little easier than that, due to the conference setup in most sports. It's just a lot easier in college football.

Then again, in virtually every other system, scheduling isn't completely unchecked, as well.

41
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:33am

His suggestion of a 4-team playoff doesn’t help much though, because in the Auburn situation, there would be multiple teams equally qualified for the #4 slot, and the controversy continues.

I'll say this again: the only time a question about whether or not a team is qualified for a slot in a playoff matters is if the team's undefeated. Teams with one loss do not have a valid complaint with the system, since they were given an option that was fully within their control: they could've won.

Complaining that a team didn't schedule hard enough is complaining about something completely outside of their control, because it depends on whether or not the team fell on hard times in the years between when the schedule was made, and that's completely outside the team's control.

42
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:38am

There are many things to criticize about the NCAA, but using advanced statistical rankings is not one of them.

Maybe the advanced statistic rankings aren't flawed, but the use of those rankings by the BCS (not the NCAA, which has no real role in I-A's championship) is. The BCS formulas have changed nearly every year, with no real reasoning behind the inputs and the weighing besides eliminating the specific problem that occurred the previous year (which, of course, has made other problems crop up).

43
by Dave (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 2:33am

I like Dave’s plan just fine… though I think there should be a sixteen team tournament with only guaranteed qualifiers for the six major conferences. The other ten spots and seedings are determined by a committee much like basketball. Unlike basketball, where there are plenty of spots to give even to mediocre major-conference teams, unless we expand the field to 32 or so, you’re going to be shunning teams that are MUCH, MUCH better than, say, the Sun Belt champ.

Obviously, I think there are a few very good reasons for having all eleven I-A conference champions in the playoffs. The first is that it gives virtually every I-A team a way to make the playoffs (excepting the handful of I-A independents -- and I suspect my playoff system would send Notre Dame, Army, and Navy into conferences; Temple's already joining the MAC next year), no matter what pollsters, computers, or selection committee members think -- win your conference, and you get to go to the championship tournament. The second is that giving everyone a shot increases the chances that a playoff will actually be implemented -- because the mid-majors (and low-majors) will be all for it. And the third is because the not-particularly-deserving-but-there-anyway conference champs add a few underdogs to draw interest and occasionally surprise people with an upset or two (which has been great for basketball).

44
by Peter (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 2:44am

41: Pat, surely if you believe in DVOA and projected wins, strength of schedule and luck, you also acknowledge that a one-loss team can be superior to an undefeated team. If that is the case, isn't it a reasonable thing for a team that has a loss to assert that it deserves the chance to play for the national championship as much or more than an undefeated team?

I'm not saying that a team with a poor schedule is "at fault," but that doesn't mean they have given enough indication of their quality against a team with a harder schedule that came up short one week. That doesn't mean they've proven themselves weaker, either... but it's not fair to either team to exclude them. The playoff system should thus be wide enough to accomodate all teams with a reasonable claim to the national championship.

If you stand by your point that only undefeatedness matters, shouldn't the playoff system simply be every undefeated team enters into a playoff bracket? All other teams would have no complaint since they had lost. If there is only one undefeated, they are national champions. There is a certain logic to this, but I do not prefer it.

45
by Peter (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 3:09am

43: You're right, the champions from the minor conferences are usually not that bad. The Sun Belt champ will always be terrible, and the MAC champion questionable, but Houston or Boise or Utah/TCU would be very reasonable. I just think that those teams have a good chance to make it anyway because they're good teams and get recognition for it... and I don't particularly need to see UL-Lafayette or whoever playing in the playoffs. It does have its appeal obviously, and the mid-majors would probably not like my system very much because there are no guarantees... even teh current BCS has some overtures to minor conferences. Perhaps under my variant you could have some sort of rolling auto-bid(s), based on league strength, kind of like what the BCS does now that everyone always thinks the Big East will fail to do.

46
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 9:22am

The problem, to me, with saying that "A team that has one loss could have done something - win!" is that it neglects the schedule argument - particularly with respect to nonconference schedules.

I accept that team strength is cyclic - a team that scheduled Colorado even three years ago (which is "last minute" as far as nonconference scheduling goes) would have no indication that they would suck ass to the highest degree today. I would, were I ranking nonconference schedules, use some sort of "average performance over the past 3 years" qualification or something, to mitigate that effect. However, if the only qualification for the playoff is "Win all games" then the obvious path is to make as many of those games as easy as possible. At that point, then, only the conference matters, and so why not just take all the conference winners, even ones with a qualify nonconference loss.

Right now, at least, part of the path is "Win all games" but, due to the computer element, there is a "Win some good games" (hence why non-BCS conference teams rarely have a shot) - especially in the nonconference schedule, which some of the computer rankings weigh more heavily than the conference schedule (by dint of the fact that teams cannot choose their conference schedule). The battle for #2 is really going to come down to nonconference schedule, not just by your team but by all teams you play, because conference games tend to wash out (consider that if every team in a conference plays every other team, the total number of wins and losses across the conference is constant - but nonconference can vary). You think USC isn't thrilled that Arkansas now is in control in the SEC? That's a quality nonconference win at the moment, and that will help their computer ranking.

#3 Auburn in 2004 was quite close to #2 Oklahoma in the polls. Enough that if more of the computers favored Auburn over Oklahoma, they could have made up the difference. But they didn't come close to either Oklahoma or USC in the computers - Auburn was a distant 3rd in every computer. Every single one! A number of the computer people blamed this on the nonconference schedule (which, to Auburn's credit, was not entirely their fault - Bowling Green pulled out of a schedule game, and they had to replace them with a 1-AA team - things like that happen to every team now and then). I think Auburn should have gotten a shot, in a 4-team thing, but etc.

The argument that the SEC is "so tough" that they needed an easy nonconference schedule (which is a common argument by SEC honks) didn't pan out.

I guess all I'm saying is that the simple argument of "Every team that wins all its games should be in!" and "Every team with a loss should be ineligible!", to me, isn't enough. If it was, then it would be in some teams' best interests to play the weakest schedule possible.

47
by Sandman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 10:08am

Everyone is obsessed with determining number one. I may be in the minority here, but I used to take comfort in knowing that if Ohio State won the Big Ten, it earned a trip to the Rose Bowl.

I am satisfied with a Buckeye season that accomplishes the following:
1. Victory over the School Up North.
2. Outright Big Ten title.
3. Rose Bowl victory.

National titles are great, and I will always remember the 2002 season fondly. However, I enjoyed the Rose Bowl after the 1996 season without losing sleep over whether or not the Buckeyes could have beaten Florida that year. There is something special about the Rose Bowl that the Fiesta Bowl does not have.

Couldn't have said it better myself, except perhaps substituting "Iowa" in all those place where it reads "Ohio State." (That's a nasty typo problem you have there.)

We may be a minority, but you're not alone. I was, and would be, perfectly happy being able to declare Iowa the Big Ten champs, and then beat the Pac-10 rep in the Rose Bowl. Why does the competition have to be on a national scale? Do we need to declare a national high championship, too?

48
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 10:31am

7: Horse hockey. In a playoff, the Auburn/Arkansas game still matters because now Auburn has to claw its way to an at-large berth because they are not the front runners of their conference. With five at-large bids, it would be unlikely that the SEC would receive three berths. With Auburn currently out of the picture for the SECCG, it would seem more likely that Florida and Arkansas (if they even get the bid in that situation) would get the two bids, and that wouldn't be assured. So, yes, in a playoff system, every game still matters, and you could argue that every game matters at least as much.

It's truly assinine that an NFL fan would claim that a playoff system makes the regular season meaningless because I doubt that any of you would argue that the NFL regular season is meaningless.

I'm curious about the coincidence between Russell's defense of this corrupt, inept system and this site's allegience to Fox Sports (who is the current owner of the BCS contract).

49
by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 10:41am

#48
this site’s allegience to Fox Sports

I do not think that word means what you think it means :)

Maybe they have an affiliation with Fox Sports, but I can't think of a single instance of FO "getting Fox's back" or doing anything else to suggest they were allies. Seems like a simple business relationship to me -- Fox gets non-stupid content to run, and FO gets a wider audience.

When Aaron turns down a buyout offer from ESPN, then you might be right.

50
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 10:49am

16: In a sixteen team playoff, the bowls can still exist. The minor bowls (ie, those not called the Rose, Sugar, Orange, or Fiesta) will pick from the EXACT SAME GROUP OF TEAMS that they currently choose from.

You can play the first two rounds on campus (increasing revenue for the schools...), the semi-finals at two of the major locations and the finals and third place games a week later at the other two venues, rotating them annually. Guess what? Before this year, one game hosted the 1-2 matchup and the rest played for what was essentially the same status (and one could argue that they played for a lower status at times, but I'm not going to bring up some of those).

When people want to bring up the "academics" argument, you have to wonder about their honesty there. First of all, it's only 16 teams, and most of them will be playing during winter break. For some reason, I-AA, II, and III (who, btw, doesn't hand out scholarships) are able to run playoffs, and many of those schools are far more rigorous academic institutions than the Tennessees of the world (just throwing that out there...).

Only four teams will play a 15 or 16 game season. In many states, you need that many games to win a state high school championship.

A playoff makes too much sense to everyone except for those who are capable of hoarding all of the money earned in the current system. The sad part is that they would likely stand to earn MORE money for everyone if they would just take that chance--but it's a chance that someone like Utah or TCU or Tulane or Marshall or Boise State (just to name a few schools snubbed by the BCS system--not necessarily for a chance to play in the title game, just for a chance to play in A BCS game) winning a couple of games and threatening the "Big Boys" is too much to handle.

I would be remiss if I didn't add that it is likely that the NFL would not want for its farm system to compete with it during the crunch time of its regular season.

51
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 10:58am

Pat, surely if you believe in DVOA and projected wins, strength of schedule and luck, you also acknowledge that a one-loss team can be superior to an undefeated team.

A six-loss team could beat a one-loss team on any given sunday. That's the way it works. It's a game. But if you're going to rank teams by adjusting winning percentage, adjusting for schedule strength differences between the teams, an undefeated team has a manifestly different true strength distribution than a one-loss team. That's just math.

If that is the case, isn’t it a reasonable thing for a team that has a loss to assert that it deserves the chance to play for the national championship

No. Not if the rules, at the outset, have been set up to provide for play-ins for unbeaten teams. The team knew that if they went unbeaten, they'd get a chance to play for the championship. They lost. They controlled their own destiny.

The problem with excluding any unbeaten team is that you are essentially excluding that team at the beginning of the year. Which means that they're outside the system entirely, and the reason that they get excluded from the system is typically entirely arbitrary.

The BCS formulas have changed nearly every year, with no real reasoning behind the inputs

Why do people say this? I hear this all the time, and it's completely not true. See here. Unfortunately, a lot of statisticians have a severe ego problem and pretty much refuse to accept that their opinion could possibly be wrong, and so you do see tons of "oh, the BCS changes were totally arbitrary" from people. They weren't.

Most of the changes done in 2004 were either fixing bad math (the extra components in earlier ratings) or finally implementing changes that had been suggested for a long time (change in poll counting).

I’m curious about the coincidence between Russell’s defense of this corrupt, inept system and this site’s allegience to Fox Sports

Oh, come on. This article isn't even published on Fox Sports. Why do people always want to bring up accusations of bias whenever someone disagrees with their opinion?

52
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:03am

Sorry for the triple post (OK, not really), but a point with #39 is this: I don't trust these "computer" rankings primarily because some of them have preseason rankings. Now, in colleges sports, where there is SO much turnover, how do you objectively determine your preseason rankings (or how is an 0-0 team ranked behind an 0-1 team at the start of the season...)?

53
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:09am

Pat, you are right that "impossible" was an overstatement, but I can't think of an example in another sport where a team tied for the best winning percentage, and was denied a chance to compete for the championship. Prior to the wild card set up, I'm sure there were some examples of a mlb team with the 2nd best winning percentage being shut out, and I don't think anyone would argue at this point that the wild card format has been bad for baeball.

Of course, this argues for Dave's 16 team field, with 11 conference champs, rather tham my 8 team field of conference champs, but I think it's difficult to compare the wisdom of formats with an example of a sport with a 162 game regular season, for a sport with a 12 game regular season. I'd prefer making a conference championship an absolute requirement, to maximize the importance of conference games, but I could live with dave's format.

Again, a real benefit could acrue, in either dave's or my format, by rewarding home field advantage in the initial playoff round, or rounds, in dave's format, to teams which had the most competitive performances against the best nonconference competition, with no credit for victories against cellar-dwellers. Ohio Sate would get three points for beating Texas, and Texas would get one point for playing Ohio State, and could have gotten two points this year if they had lost by ten points or less. Ohio State would get zero points for thumping Akron, and if they had been upset, they would get negative two points. Thus, there would be a real disincentive to schedule opponents who were expected to be creampuffs, and a real incentive to schedule teams which were expected to be a challenge talent- wise. Yes, there would be surprises, but it would be an improvement over the current situation.

54
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:09am

49: I was being rather snarky with that comment. Just a little.

I'm also just a bit upset that what was one of the best college football sites sold their souls to Scout, who are, in my opinion, crap.

55
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:15am

Will: You can't measure the "most competitive performances" in football. At least, not with any simple thing like points scored or points allowed. How many times have you heard "the game was closer than the score"?

Part of what makes the game fun is that the score doesn't always reflect the competitiveness of the teams. That's just one strong reason why the statistical rankings aren't allowed to use point margin anymore. For fun, have a look at Sagarin's ratings based on points, and look at the SEC compared to the PAC-10, for instance.

56
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:18am

Harsh giving JLS to Willingham. I thought the Wake coach deserved getting the JLS award. Going for a 42 yard field goal when up by 14 with the wind swirling around in the 4th quarter...

57
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:21am

I don’t trust these “computer� rankings primarily because some of them have preseason rankings.

Um. None of them do, for the BCS. The only ones that do only use them for the first few weeks (when the BCS standings aren't even reported) until things become fully connected.

58
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:55am

57: So tell me how Sagarin comes up with his rankings after the first weekend of playing and not every team has played yet. That ought to be interesting.

Sorry for another rant here, and this is unrelated to Sagarin, but one argument that I absolutely despise is the "they haven't played a tough schedule so they're not a good team" argument. The assumption that an undefeated team with a low SOS is not as good as a team with a loss or four against a good SOS is fallacious. The argument SHOULD read, "they haven't played a tough schedule so we don't know how good they are". Thus, when a non-BCS team runs the table, they SHOULD get a shot to prove their worth. Again, this would be solved in a playoff system and is yet another flaw of the current system. A team who is in the "wrong" conference has to be ten times better than one in the "right" conference just to get into a BCS game. I mean, does it not bother anyone that South Florida or UConn have better chance to get into a BCS game on teams who have ten times or more history at the highest level of college football than they do?

59
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:04pm

Did you even read what I wrote?

The only ones that do only use them for the first few weeks (when the BCS standings aren’t even reported)

By the time the BCS standings are reported (actually, well before), the Sagarin ratings are completely unbiased, with zero influence from the preseason rankings. It's just math. There's a paper in a journal about it. You can look it up, and calculate it on your own.

The preseason rankings are just used by Sagarin so that he can publish rankings for USA Today in the first few weeks. They have absolutely zero bearing on the rating that he gives to the BCS.

60
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:10pm

To quote:

For the first few weeks of the season, the starting ratings have weight
in the process(BAYESIAN), but once the teams are all CONNECTED, then
the starting ratings are no longer used and all teams are started equal
and the ELO-CHESS is then done in an UNBIASED manner from that point on.
RATING and PREDICTOR are now unbiased and the ELO-CHESS is also unbiased now.

It's right on the webpage. Emphasis mine. The book which describes it, by the way, is Elo, Arpad E., The Rating of Chess Players Past and Present 2nd Ed., New York, Arco Pub., 1986.

61
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:14pm

Alright, Pat, then forget about margin of victory, and simply award four points for beating a quality opponent, two points for defeating an average opponent, two points for scheduling a quality opponent, a single point for scheduling an average opponent, zero points for defeating a subpar opponent, and negative points for being upset by a sub-par opponent.

The point is to make it very disadvantageous to deliberately find creampuffs to play, while providing a real reward for deliberately finding difficult opponents to play. If a team wants to take the Kansas State approach to building a program, fine, but they do so with the near-certain knoweledge that they will never get a home playoff game through that strategy. I'd also let the home playoff team keep about 90 percent of playoff ticket revenue.

62
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:33pm

Alright, Pat, then forget about margin of victory, and simply award

What's a quality opponent? UNC had a losing record last year, yet they were almost certainly better than Akron, who had a winning record.

two points for scheduling a quality opponent

Scheduling happens years in advance: is Penn State a quality team? They finished 3rd in the nation last year in virtually every measure, so I can't imagine how they couldn't be. But in 2003, they likely weren't in the top 75. So do teams get credit for scheduling Penn State, even though they end up playing a cream puff?

Or what about the reverse: do you criticize Penn State in 2005 for scheduling a cream-puff like Cincinnati, who finished 3-7, when in the previous year they were 7-5?

It's not as easy as we make it out to be. Certainly, though, teams in the BCS conferences shouldn't be required to schedule hard. Their conference schedule is hard enough. Teams outside the BCS conferences, sure. But that's why my qualifier would be "in order to qualify for a play-in game/playoff, a team's schedule over a 4 year period must contain an average of 4 teams which finished in the BCS top 25 at the end of the year each year."

63
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:49pm

Oops, that should say "an average of 4 teams which finished in the BCS top 25 at the end of the year at some point in the previous 5 years, each year."

64
by Matt K (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:53pm

Are people are already giving Arkansas the SEC West? They struggled to beat Vandy and Alabama, and still have to play South Carolina, Tennessee, and LSU don't they? It is conceivable they could lose all three of these games. Even if Auburn loses to Florida this weekend, we could still see the Tigers (either LSU or Auburn) in a somewhat watered down championship game.

65
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:14pm

Pat, just identify a quality opponent in the same way Sagarin identifies a quality team. Would some bad breaks result, due to advance scheduling? Sure, but bad breaks always occur. The thing to do, however, is to discourage the K-State method of scheduling, where a team actively seeks to schedule weak non-conference games. Why shouldn't we incentivize Penn State to play Pittsburgh, instead of Akron, with the expectation that Pittsburgh is more likely in any given year to have at least an average team?

66
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:18pm

I'm actually not a fan of the expanded MLB playoffs, but I'd imagine that you wouldn't find many people who'd want the men's tournament to return to the days when only conference champions could participate.

I expect that the NCAA will eventually set up a playoff system, but I also believe that it will only happen when a network throws so much money at them that they can't say no, and that will be disappointing (as opposed to setting up a playoff based on its own merits).

It's pretty clear to me that there are people on each side who support their arguments passionately, which I think is a good sign. Perhaps not as good as if most people passionately supported the current system :) but better than if Russell mentioned a possible playoff and most people said "Who cares, I wouldn't watch anyway."

I think we've determined this weekend that while Indiana and Illinois might not play well against most non-JLS-coached teams, at least they're exciting to watch against each other ... props to Dustin Haas for having the presence of mind to give himself up quickly enough to allow the Hoosiers time to spike the ball, and boo to Illinois for going for two twice in the first quarter.

Russell, if you felt uncomfortable having Arkansas ranked below Auburn, couldn't you also have chosen to keep moving Auburn down below the Hogs?

67
by Steve Sandvik (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:21pm

See, this is why polls are idiocy. How does Washington move down for being within a play of beating a top 5 team that they were nearly 3 touchdown underdogs to, on the road? The end of the game aside, *shouldn't* a 20-25 ranked team lose to a top 5 team? Why on earth should they move down for that? That's just dumb. If they were worthy of a ranking last week, a performance like that against a top 5 team ought to move them *up*, if anything.

68
by Peter (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:29pm

63: How many such teams are there? It seems reasonable, but is there enough variation for teams to accurately judge how good their opponents are, particularly given the cycling problem we've already described?

From your responses, I guess you actually would be in favor of the undefeated playoff that I suggested, so long as those rules were made clear at the start of the season. I understand your logic; any system which excludes an undefeated team is effectively judging them based on scheduling prowess rather than on-the-field success.

As other posters have suggested, the best path to the national title game should not be to schedule as many easy wins as humanly possible to reduce the possibility of a loss. I truly do not think that you or anyone else believes an undefeated team coming from CUSA or the Sun Belt deserves to play in the national championship game, given the flawed system we currently have.

That's immaterial, of course, because you've implied that you accept the best solution to this problem is a playoff which takes in all undefeateds and includes the best-qualified (mathematically) teams with losses. I think this is a fairly good solution... any team from a small conference will be accepted if they are undefeated, which frankly is the only way they would make it past the selection committee (in my 10-open-bids system) anyway. Teams from the big conferences would be okay if they play a hard schedule and win all but one (possibly two), plus the auto-conference-bid opens up that avenue to teams who lose out of conference.

69
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:29pm

Pat, just identify a quality opponent in the same way Sagarin identifies a quality team.

But a team won't know 5 years ahead of time - when most games are scheduled - what the Sagarin ranking of a team at the end of their schedule will be.

Is Penn State more likely to get a good game versus Pitt? Sure. But they still could end up with 1998 Pitt, of the 1-9 variety, and would end up getting penalized. And if that's the year that the team's good, then you're excluding a team from a spot because their opponent had a down year? That doesn't make a lot of sense.

The thing to do, however, is to discourage the K-State method of scheduling, where a team actively seeks to schedule weak non-conference games.

The thing you want to avoid is Boise State's method of scheduling, where they're in a weak conference, and they schedule weak opponents. Kansas State's in a BCS conference. They've already got a difficult enough schedule. There's no reason for them to make it any worse.

And the only fair way to do that is not to evaluate a team's performance that year, but to evaluate that team's historical performance.

70
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:40pm

Pat, I'm not looking for perfection, I'm just trying to get teams to do everything they can to avoid playing bad teams. If the historical method achieves this, fine, and since I'd prefer to make playoff spots available only to conference champs, no BCS teamconference champ would fear being left out, as long as they won their conference.

#66, I haven't watched a college basketball game before March in over a decade. I actually would prefer their game if only the conference champs got in the tournament, and they played best of three.

71
by Peter (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:43pm

67: You're arguing from poll inertia. Four teams moved ahead of Washington from where it was last week: Arkansas, Rutgers, Missouri, and Iowa. In addition, one team moved behind Washington: FSU.

Arkansas upset the #2 team in the nation. Missouri creamed a good conference opponent. Iowa creamed an in-state rival who is 4-2. All of those things are better than almost beating an excellent team. Even if it didn't penalize them in the voters' minds, it's all relative to the other teams. Keep in mind that the loss clearly was considered to be less of a problem than FSU's loss to NCSU.

The Rutgers decision is a little strange... I'm not sure what about a bye week made them appear BETTER than Washington, who by all accounts played a very good game. So perhaps Washington should be one slot higher.

72
by Peter (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:44pm

Oops, just remembered Purdue is in Indiana... ignore the Iowa comments. Still a blowout against a 4-2 team.

73
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:59pm

It seems reasonable, but is there enough variation for teams to accurately judge how good their opponents are, particularly given the cycling problem we’ve already described?

Those numbers are pretty much made up. But you can tune that to a realistic expectation.

Most of the BCS conferences automatically get a pass on that qualifier, because usually at least 3 or 4 of the teams in conference are major teams. Teams could schedule the weakest opponents they want and it wouldn't do anything - their conference schedules are hard enough that they make up for it.

Does anyone really want to say that Penn State, if they had gone undefeated, wouldn't've had more of a claim than USC, even though they only scheduled 3 cream-puff opponents? They would have faced, and beat, 4 top-25 teams. That's more than USC had, and that includes a game they scheduled.

I guess you actually would be in favor of the undefeated playoff that I suggested, so long as those rules were made clear at the start of the season.

Yup. I prefer a 4-team playoff. You deal with the fact that you'll frequently have 1-loss teams in the playoff for the consistency it brings. The other suggestion I've heard (which isn't bad) is to have an automatically expanding playoff to accomodate unbeaten teams with a schedule of appropriate quality. For odd-numbers of undefeateds, the highest ranked team gets a bye.

So, in 2004, you would've had USC, Auburn, Oklahoma in a 3-team playoff. Utah and Boise State would be left off because their scheduling over the past few years has been too weak, but they would've known that before the season, and probably would've scheduled harder teams instead of the ones they did. Utah would've likely scheduled a different team instead of Arizona, for instance. Utah's actually a bit marginal - Arizona was a top 25 team in 1998, and you might have to make it 6 years depending on how far ahead the average schedule is made.

So Utah might have made it in. But honestly, that might not have been so bad. They finished 2004 undefeated as well, and never even got a decent opponent to face to prove it.

The whole situation is very hard, though: are you going to criticize Utah for scheduling Utah State, for instance? That's an instate rivalry. You'd be hard pressed to tell them that they have to stop playing a historical game due to some silly NCAA requirement.

74
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 2:14pm

Re #64
People are "giving" Arkansas the SEC West because they need to lose two games more than anybody else over the rest of the year to not win the division. That's a gargantuan lead at this point in the season. There's plenty of time left for them to not win the division, but they have to be considered the favorites right now.

75
by chris (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 4:32pm

No one's given a really good reason for their resistance to a playoff that would allow champions from the bottom four or five conferences. Who would it hurt?

People continue to bitch about Boise State as a candidate unworthy of consideration, but which major programs are even willing to give Boise a one for two arrangement. (God forbid Utah asks for a home and home.) Talk is cheap, folks.

I think others have already tackled the validity "worth of the regular season" argument. That nipple needs to go.

As for the "last team in" argument, there just aren't enough good teams out there to create a great controversy. Sorry, but it's only every once in a while when you can honestly pinpoint 15 titlist-quality teams. In most cases, you're looking at 10, maybe. Last year, the last team out would have been Virginia Tech (just going by BCS.com), and I wouldn't have lost a minute of sleep over it.

On bowls, I'm perfectly fine with rotating the majors events into the mix of semifinal and championship games. The first two rounds would go to mid-tier bowls and the low-tier bowls would rotate into the first round.

The other 13 non-participating bowls would be able to invite better teams than they wouldn't ordinarily be able to pick up. Meaning that those NIT bowls aren't having to give up 15,000 tickets to charity. To give an example from last year, the Poinsetta Bowl would gladly take LSU-Virginia Tech over Navy-Colorado State any day.

And it means that the teams still get to get their extra 15 days of practice in December, which is really what a lot of the coaches are after if they're not competing in a major bowl.

76
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 4:45pm

No one’s given a really good reason for their resistance to a playoff that would allow champions from the bottom four or five conferences.

Because they're clearly not in the same class as the other conferences, averaged over time. All you're going to do in that case is give a financial benefit that comes from an automatic large-market game to the best team in a weak conference. It'd never fly.

The best solution would be to split Division I-A in two, but that will never happen.

People continue to bitch about Boise State as a candidate unworthy of consideration, but which major programs are even willing to give Boise a one for two arrangement. (God forbid Utah asks for a home and home.) Talk is cheap, folks.

This is money, nothing else. If Boise State has to accept more away out-of-conference games to stay in contention, so what?

Fairness in eligibility for a championship does not mean that every team has to have a fair route to get there. They just have to have some route to get there.

77
by chris (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 5:29pm

Re: 76

BCS programs seem to have spoken with their piggy banks when it comes to the bottom five conferences. The verdict: Even the worst Sun Belt team is more than worthy when it comes time to pay out for a certain D-I win.

Once again, who does it hurt if Louisiana-Lafayette gets a little money that they ordinarily wouldn't get without playing a guarantee game. Funny, no one's complaining about that extra financial benefit in September.

I don't think you can expect a system to be fair, but it doesn't need to be rigged. Once again, if Boise State is waiting for for a home-and-home with Penn State, best of luck. But if the Broncs are getting rebuffed on an offer of two trips to a major program with one return date, that's on the bigger program and those who co-sign on that type of practice.

78
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 7:00pm

Re: 51

The BCS formulas have changed nearly every year, with no real reasoning behind the inputs

Why do people say this? I hear this all the time, and it’s completely not true. See here. Unfortunately, a lot of statisticians have a severe ego problem and pretty much refuse to accept that their opinion could possibly be wrong, and so you do see tons of “oh, the BCS changes were totally arbitrary� from people. They weren’t.

Most of the changes done in 2004 were either fixing bad math (the extra components in earlier ratings) or finally implementing changes that had been suggested for a long time (change in poll counting).

I'm not really talking about the 2004 changes here, but what went on before that. Was the quality win bonus put in after 2000 because of the Miami/FSU problem and junked 3 years later a good idea? Or the essential double-counting of schedule strength from 1998-2003? Or dividing the schedule rank by 25, instead of some other number?

79
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 7:57pm

The 2004 changes are the only ones that matter, since they're what led to what we have now. They actually got input from statisticians for the 2004 changes.

Yeah, the pre-2004 statistical portion of the BCS sucked. So what? They got rid of it. The only thing wrong with the statistical portion of the BCS currently is a few of their choices (like Billingsley, for instance, who's on wacky drugs).

Funny, no one’s complaining about that extra financial benefit in September.

That's because the September payouts are miniscule compared to the bowl-level payouts, where you've got guaranteed TV money coming in.

80
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 8:26pm

#48: Sophandros, You're another participant here at FO that I have a lot of respect for. However, I must take issue with:

It’s truly assinine that an NFL fan would claim that a playoff system makes the regular season meaningless because I doubt that any of you would argue that the NFL regular season is meaningless.

I never said the NFL's regular season was meaningless.

However, the regular season games are significantly less meaningful than college football's. Any NFL team can rebound from a loss. More often than not, college football teams cannot.

In addition, there are NFL games that are completely meaningless. Every year during Week 17 certain teams rest their starters.

Also:

With five at-large bids, it would be unlikely that the SEC would receive three berths. With Auburn currently out of the picture for the SECCG, it would seem more likely that Florida and Arkansas (if they even get the bid in that situation) would get the two bids, and that wouldn’t be assured.

You're assuming that with five at-large berths, Arkansas would automatically get in before Auburn- but that ignores history and logic.

Until 2006, the BCS bowls have usually had two at-large bids. After the 2004 season Texas, who finished second in their division, got the only at-large bid while Big-12 North champ Colorado went to the Champs Sports Bowl.

In the scenario you laid out, it would be easy to see two SEC teams taken to fill five at-large spots, and even easier to see Arkansas lose one more regular season game, lose to Florida in the SEC championship game, and have Auburn get in.

Whatever- I like the bowls, you want a playoff. Not everyone prefers the same thing.

I also agree with the guys who miss the "old days" where the Big 12 champ went to the Orange Bowl, SWC champs went to the Cotton Bowl, etc. Having said that, I'm glad to see #1 vs #2, but I do miss the old bowl conference tie-ins.

81
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 8:34pm

No one’s given a really good reason for their resistance to a playoff that would allow champions from the bottom four or five conferences. Who would it hurt?

Anyone that wants to see a good game.

In such a proposed playoff, last year we would have seen #1 USC v #16 Arkansas State and #2 Texas v #15 Akron. In a word, bleech.

People continue to bitch about Boise State as a candidate unworthy of consideration, but which major programs are even willing to give Boise a one for two arrangement. (God forbid Utah asks for a home and home.) Talk is cheap, folks.

For every one person "bitching" about Boise State, I see at least a dozen championing them.

Last year Boise State traveled to Georgia, and they got creamed. Then they lost their home bowl game vs a middle-of-the-pack Boston College team. Two chances to prove they belong, two eggs laid.

I don't have anything against Boise State or the mid-major teams, but I have the feeling that if Boise State plays a real team in a BCS game, the romantic speculation of "how will they do?" will be replaced by the cold, hard reality of a blowout.

82
by Peter (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 8:36pm

73: I understand the importance of the undefeateds, but I don't understand your emphasis on the exclusivity of the playoffs. If 16 is too many, as 75 perhaps fairly suggests (I think VT last year could have won the title with a good run, but I see his point anyway), then why not 8? I think there are AT LEAST that many teams that would on a regular basis defeat the one, two, or three undefeateds and win the title. If the competitive balance is that close, as I believe it is, shouldn't that be reflected in the number of teams allowed to contend for the title?

As for small teams, I don't think the worst conferences deserve auto-berths, but I don't like to completely slam the door on non-BCS teams. The problem will come that in this playoff system, there is no incentive whatsoever for the big teams (who would boost schools' schedules to "acceptable" limits) to play those good non-BCS teams. If Pat's playoff system were enacted, I would never play Boise or Fresno or Utah. Why should I? It can only hurt me. And in turn, Utah doesn't play good opponents and is excluded.

I think a selection committee system is definitely the best way... there are biases involved, of course, but I don't think a group of rational people setting a field of 16 with 6 auto-qualifiers will fail to include all teams that have a valid claim that they can play for the title. Schedule strength will still be a factor, and thus teams are encouraged to play some other good teams, including good non-BCS teams.

83
by chris (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 8:46pm

#79

Earlier, you'd mentioned your preference for splitting Division I-A in two. Which is great, so long as BCS programs are willing to make a clean break.

You can't have it both ways. If you don't want the Troy States of the world around, don't schedule them and don't count them as Division I victories.

84
by chris (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 8:54pm

#81

So much of this is a matter of taste. Which probably explains why this thread reoccurs each year, probably several times a year.

I'm perfectly fine with seeing USC-Arkansas State and Texas-Akron. The other 13 games in a prospective playoff would make up for it.

On Boise's trip TO Georgia, are the Dawgs coming back? Are you trying to say that Georgia would make that trip if Boise won that game? Yeah, right.

85
by chris (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 8:57pm

#81 again

Finally, I'll go back on the "bitching about Boise" comment. An overstatement.

But no, no one realistically champions Boise within this current format.

86
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 8:59pm

So much of this is a matter of taste. Which probably explains why this thread reoccurs each year, probably several times a year.

Amen. :)

I’m perfectly fine with seeing USC-Arkansas State and Texas-Akron. The other 13 games in a prospective playoff would make up for it.

But do you *really* think Arkansas State and Akron were among the sixteen best-qualified teams to have participated in a hypothetical 2005 playoff?

On Boise’s trip TO Georgia, are the Dawgs coming back? Are you trying to say that Georgia would make that trip if Boise won that game?

I honestly don't understand the question- are you saying that Boise wouldn't have been blown out if Georgia offered a home-and-home?

Reality is that Boise had two chances last year to prove they belonged. And what they actually proved was that they're a pretty good small-conference team, but no match for the big boys.

87
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 9:00pm

You’re assuming that with five at-large berths, Arkansas would automatically get in before Auburn- but that ignores history and logic.

Until 2006, the BCS bowls have usually had two at-large bids. After the 2004 season Texas, who finished second in their division, got the only at-large bid while Big-12 North champ Colorado went to the Champs Sports Bowl.

Except that Colorado would have finished sixth in the Big-12 South that year, ahead of only Baylor. Colorado was 4-4 in the Big-12, got stomped 42-3 in the championship game by Oklahoma, and lost 31-7 at home to 11-1 Texas. With 8 wins, they weren't even eligible for a BCS at-large bid.

Last year Boise State traveled to Georgia, and they got creamed. Then they lost their home bowl game vs a middle-of-the-pack Boston College team. Two chances to prove they belong, two eggs laid.

I don’t have anything against Boise State or the mid-major teams, but I have the feeling that if Boise State plays a real team in a BCS game, the romantic speculation of “how will they do?� will be replaced by the cold, hard reality of a blowout.

Boise State 2004 != Boise State 2005. Last year's Boise State team also lost to Oregon State and Fresno State, both of whom it had beaten easily the year before, albeit at home. The 2004 team was highly competitive in their bowl game against 11-1 Louisville, losing 44-40. While they almost certainly would not have won a national championship, there's no reason to be sure they would have gotten destroyed.

88
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 9:21pm

87- My points were:

A: It's not difficult to imagine a scenario where Auburn would get into a hypothetical playoff ahead of Arkansas. It's a sad truth that losing a conference championship game can be a major negative. Just ask Gary Barnett :)

B: In 2004, Boise State played well against the Conference USA champion while losing. That's not a knock, but it is what it is.

Boise has a legitimate shot of playing in a BCS bowl this season. If they make it, we'll see how they do.

89
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 9:34pm

A: It’s not difficult to imagine a scenario where Auburn would get into a hypothetical playoff ahead of Arkansas. It’s a sad truth that losing a conference championship game can be a major negative. Just ask Gary Barnett :)

Yup, but the example was poor.

B: In 2004, Boise State played well against the Conference USA champion while losing. That’s not a knock, but it is what it is.

The Conference USA champion, who finished the season ranked higher than the ACC, Big East, and Big 10 champions, and moved to a BCS conference the next season.

90
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 9:52pm

89- Not to nitpick, but the example was that a team that finishes second in it's conference division could make it into a hypothetical playoff where five at large teams are included.

As in...the year before last, a team that finished second in it's conference division received the *only* available BCS at large bid.

That was the example.

And the more I type the more I get away from my main points:

-Every game counts in college football.

-For National Championship purposes, every game is a potential elimination game.

-A playoff would take away from that.

91
by Peter (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 10:01pm

90: If you really enjoy that every game is an elimination game, and thus agree with Pat than undefeatedness trumps, then you should support his flexible, undefeated-only playoffs. It's a lot more equitable than excluding 2004 Auburn.

Also... what is your point, that there could be two teams in the same half of one conference that are among the best 8 in the country? Is this bad or something? Should I be offended that it was Texas and not Colorado in the BCS? Is Colorado better, more deserving, more accomplished, or any of the other attributes we would hope a playoff team would have?

92
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 10:05pm

Re: 90

Now I understand, even though the 2004 Big-12 North shouldn't be thought of as a BCS-level conference (the North went 3-16 against the South that year, and all 3 wins came against Baylor).

BTW, I agree with all your main points, except that I'd like a 4-team, or better yet, variable, playoff.

93
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 10:11pm

91- All due respect, did you read this entire thread? I suspect that if you had, you wouldn't be asking what my point was.

Not bleming you- that's an inherent problem with good internet discussions.

94
by Peter (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:24pm

Well I did, but since it's spanned a few days I had to go back and check to see if I missed something... which I sort of did.

I guess all you were disputing was that Arkansas and Florida were more likely to get a fictional playoff berth than Auburn. However, you never really responded to the original assertion that a playoff would still mean that the regular season matters.

Anyway, you're right... your discussion sidetracked into the irrelevant, so I came in unwarranted.

95
by chris (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 1:38am

# 86

I was basically saying that there's nothing Boise could do to "earn" Georgia (or any other high-profile program) as a guest, so their performance in Athens is besides the point.

And to be fair, it's not only the smaller schools that have to deal with this act. The nouveau riche programs of the late 90s -- like Va Tech and Kansas State -- found that getting a square deal from the traditional powers was next to impossible. (USC would be one of the few exceptions.)

# 90

a) I really wonder if these "sanctity of the regular season" folks have actually studied the potential effect.

b) So how does one square Florida's "elimination" games versus West Virginia's?

96
by Solomon (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 2:07am

A few other thoughts:
1. It is two-faced of the NCAA to use academics as an argument against a I-A football playoff while it allows the basketball postseason NIT tournament to exist. What is the purpose of that useless tournament? To determine #65 (or #66 LOL)?
2. I would not mind a rule limiting teams to seven home games under a 12-game schedule. Six would be ideal (6 home, 6 away) but probably unrealistic. I suppose one must make allowances for neutral games like Florida-Georgia and Oklahoma-Texas. In any case, eight out of 12 is excessive (Alabama, Auburn, Lousiana State this year).
3. This is a little off-subject, but maybe LSU fans can tell me why do the Tigers almost never wear the purple jerseys at home (even at night)?

97
by wildcardhater (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 11:15am

I'm a bit late to the party, but I completely agree with Dave (post #5, others) that all 11 conference champions should be included in a playoff. I would go a bit further, however, and restrict the playoff to conference champions. No team should have two bites at the apple. On what basis should we allow a team that lost to the conference champion in the regular season and then beat them during the playoffs to advance over the conference champion? Arguments like "it happens in the NFL" and "what about the NCAA basketball tourney" won't fly here. College basketball has a tournament, not playoffs. Wild cards in the NFL are illegitimate and should also be disallowed. The NFL playoffs should be renamed the "Super Bowl Tournament". PLAYOFFS in all sports (and especially in Div 1-A CF) are needed to determine the BEST team, not to determine the best 8 or 16 teams. If you can't win your conference, you are not eligible to be the best team in the country, period.
As for format, rank all teams using the BCS formula, top 5 get byes. The bottom 6 (which will likely have the 5 small conferences) will be seeded by ranking and play in late December. Winners advance to the round of 8 to be played in the BCS bowls on New Years Day. Winners advance to the semis played at the two top ranked remaining teams home stadiums. Championship played at a neutral site on the NFL's off Sunday between the conference championships and Super Bowl.

98
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 11:16am

Re 71, 72: Don't go by records alone. Purdue is one of the worst 4-2 teams in the country, as much as it pains me to admit that: wins over a weak I-AA team (Indiana State), a weak I-A team (Ball State), and a winless I-A team at home in OT (Miami, OH). The Minnesota win is their only respectable win so far. Yes, their losses are to good teams, but don't mistake them for a good team themselves.

Re 96: I could see why they wouldn't wear those jerseys for day games. Dark colors in the heat? (at least early in the season) Not such a good idea.

99
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 11:43am

Re #96
1. I don't think it's two-faced at all. The college football regular season ends before fall final exams, then you have final exams, then bowl games. The spring basketball tournaments occur in the middle of the semester for semester schools, and my experience with quarter schools tells me that the basketball tournaments begin a little bit after winter quarter exams. So, I don't think it's two-faced at all.

2. Nice idea, but money talks. Never happen.

100
by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 11:44am

#97, the reasons for filling out the 11-conference champions to a 16 team bracket are pretty simple.

1 - Independents (Notre Dame, Army, Navy) deserve a shot, at least from the selection committee.
2 - Ties in conferences without championship games (especially in the Big Ten, where if the two best teams aren't Ohio State and Michigan, they may not play each other).
3 - Sometimes thre really are two or three excellent teams from one conference in one year (I suspect the usually situation in my playoss would be 4 BCS conferences getting two schools in, and ND taking the other at-large)
4 - An 11 team playoff has five 1st-round byes, giving nearly half the teams involved a huge advantage over the other half, and making seeding arguments messy at a point (#5 vs. #6) where you're still looking at legit title contenders.

* * * *
Kevin11 --

But do you *really* think Arkansas State and Akron were among the sixteen best-qualified teams to have participated in a hypothetical 2005 playoff?

Were they among the sixteen best teams in the country? Almost certainly not. Among the sixteen most qualified to be in a playoff -- yup. They won a I-A conference. I mean, I suspect winners of my tournament would rarely come from outside the top 8 seeds, and almost never from outside the top 12. But that would happen whether you included the non-BCS conferences or not.

101
by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 11:47am

... and my spellchecker seems broken today.

make that...

2 - There may be ties in conferences without championship games (especially in the Big Ten, where if the two best teams aren’t Ohio State and Michigan, they may not play each other), and while all conferences have a tiebreaker formula, it's often somewhat arbitrary (the Big Ten sends whoever's gone the longest without a Rose Bowl to the Rose Bowl in the case of a tie).
3 - Sometimes thre really are two or three excellent teams from one conference in one year (I suspect the usual situation in my playoffs would be 4 BCS conferences getting two schools in, and ND taking the other at-large)

102
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 12:01pm

If Pat’s playoff system were enacted, I would never play Boise or Fresno or Utah. Why should I?

Money.

It can only hurt me. And in turn, Utah doesn’t play good opponents and is excluded.

Or, Utah and Boise State could schedule each other. The mid-major champions presumedly could end up in the BCS top 25 every few years.

I can't believe people think it's a good idea to have all 11 conference champions autoberthed into a playoff. Considering the relative strengths of the conferences, it's just crazy, and it will never fly because of the money. To the college presidents, you'd be giving a large amount of money to schools whose some programs clearly don't deserve it due to some misguided and completely wrong idea of conference parity. Is it because of some residual dislike of the idea of "privileged" conferences?

The BCS conferences aren't necessarily privileged - there are provisions in the BCS for removing an autoberth from a conference. Strengthen them, and invert them for granting an autoberth.

103
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 12:08pm

Among the sixteen most qualified to be in a playoff — yup. They won a I-A conference.

What's so special about a I-A conference that's not even more special about the BCS conferences? The BCS conferences are special: their champions average a much, much higher final BCS ranking than the non-BCS conferences. You'd be hard pressed to find a champion of a BCS conference that didn't end up in the final 25.

I don't see the reason in saying "this team's deserving" just because they beat a bunch of random teams. Divisional/conference disparity in professional sports doesn't come anywhere close to the difference between midmajor and major conferences in college football.

I don't see why you couldn't only include conferences with a certain minimum average quality over the past years.

104
by wildcardhater (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 12:21pm

#100 - Can't agree with you on these.

1 - Independents would be forced to join a conference. I think you endorsed that very consequence in one of your original posts.

2 - Let the conferences work it out themselves. I'm only interested in the BEST team. If the conferences are silly enought to permit schedules where teams do not play round-robin, let them determine the sophisticaed tiebreaker formula or, better-still, have the two teams that are tied at the top of a conference PLAY-OFF. I don't want the NCAA to intrude on conference autonomy.

3 - I'm not interested in the top 2 or 3 best teams. Playoffs are to determine the BEST team when two teams with common opponents have identical records with no head-to-head winner or have insufficient common opponents and no head-to-head meetings. Quality teams that do not win their championship can still go to a bowl.

4 - My system is essentially an 8 team playoff with 3 play-in games. The likely outcome is that the best 5 BCS conference champions get byes. The lowest ranked BCS conference champion must play-in with the 5 minor conference champions. This system keeps the BCS, the bowl alliance, the existing bowl system, and just adds 3 games prior (the play-in games) and 3 games subsequent (2 semis and a championship). Giving hightly ranked BCS teams byes rewards winning percentage, non-conference games against ranked oponants and all of the things that make college football great.

My system is intended to determine the BEST college football team. While adding non-champions will improve the quality of the pool (and likely increase TV ratings), it will not increase the likelihood of determining the BEST team.

105
by wildcardhater (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 12:25pm

#102 - Unfortunately, I must agree with you. A system that gives all 11 conference champions automatic berths is fun to imagine, but will never be enacted. TV revenue rules. TV will never allow it. They want Ohio State - Michigan in the semis or finals.

106
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 12:26pm

The BCS conferences aren’t necessarily privileged - there are provisions in the BCS for removing an autoberth from a conference.

Does anyone know if the so-called"Big East rule" has been altered? I'm pretty sure that as of 2004, the conference champion had to average at least a 12th place BCS ranking over four years, but the FAQ on bcsfootball.org says:

What about the process for determining which conferences receive automatic BCS bowl bids in the future. How does that process work?

Each conference will be evaluated over a four-year period based on the three elements: the average rank of the highest ranked team, the average rank of all conference teams, and the number of teams in the top 25. Bowls' contractual agreements with host conferences will remain in place.

Collegebcs.com used to have a great FAQ which could answer this question, but it's been scaled back, the site's become largely subscriber-only, and the archives have been blocked.

107
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 12:41pm

it will not increase the likelihood of determining the BEST team.

There are several problems here:

1) You don't define what you mean by the "best" team.

2) If you mean "team with the best true strength": playoffs do not determine the best team. They determines the winner of the playoff. Weaker teams can actually have a higher likelihood of winning the playoffs than stronger teams due to disparity between seeding mechanisms and true strengths.

3) I don't see how including the midmajor champions helps determine the best team either. If the midmajor champions clearly aren't the better teams, why include them?

108
by chris (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 1:56pm

How does one define "deserving"?

As a compromise on the smaller conferences, it wouldn't kill me if a panel gave an automatic to the best of the bottom five champions and had the other four square off for two other bids.

That gives the BCS conferences two more at-large bids to work with, and improves the quality of the three teams with the lowest ratings.

But it's fine if the top two or three contenders get a break in the first round of any tournament. Plus, I think five or six teams is the point beyond which the at-large candidates are dreck.

In general, a playoff is more indicative of strength, because to win the title (instead of it being awarded), you have to beat the best of the best in three straight games.

Even Florida won't be able to claim that, as challenging as their October has been.

109
by chris (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 2:16pm

In terms of not-so-deserving teams from BCS conferences over the years, they're not common, but they aren't one-in-a-million, either.

1999 -- Stanford (22nd)
2004 -- Pittsburgh (21st; really knocked our socks off against Utah)
2005 -- Florida State (22nd)

Not out of the Top 25 in BCS, but definitely flirting with it.

110
by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 2:53pm

1 - Independents would be forced to join a conference. I think you endorsed that very consequence in one of your original posts.

I think they should join a conference, and almost certainly would (or at least, Notre Dame would, though they might spend a few years grumbling about it; the service academies might not). But they shouldn't be forced to (especially when conference realignment can toss teams into independent-land for a year or two against their will, and teams moving up to I-A almost always spend some time as independents). And I certainly don't think the NCAA should be in the position of telling Army and Navy that they have to join a conference if they want to play for the championship.

What’s so special about a I-A conference that’s not even more special about the BCS conferences? The BCS conferences are special: their champions average a much, much higher final BCS ranking than the non-BCS conferences. You’d be hard pressed to find a champion of a BCS conference that didn’t end up in the final 25.

The NCAA doesn't recognize any difference between the BCS conferences and the non-BCS conferences. They play under the same set of NCAA regulations, have the same number of scholarships, etc. The difference they recognize is between I-A and I-AA.

Granted, teams from the power conferences have more resources. But that's just as true in basketball, and George Mason still plays in the same tournament as UCLA.

* * * *

#109, Also note that that Pitt team was part of a four way tie with three unranked teams (SU, BC, and WVU). If the Big East's tiebreaker had been different, an unranked team could easily have been there; the Big East actually broke the four-way tie by chosing the highest-ranked team as its champion.

111
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 3:14pm

The NCAA doesn’t recognize any difference between the BCS conferences and the non-BCS conferences.

Does the NCAA recognize conferences at all?

Anyway, the NCAA doesn't recognize a champion at all, nor will they ever. The BCS is the closest organization that does, and they do recognize a difference between BCS and non-BCS conferences. And they do it for a reason - because really, Division IA should be split in two.

112
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 3:14pm

#109, Also note that that Pitt team was part of a four way tie with three unranked teams (SU, BC, and WVU). If the Big East’s tiebreaker had been different, an unranked team could easily have been there; the Big East actually broke the four-way tie by chosing the highest-ranked team as its champion.

Yup. The first tiebreaker was head-to-head between the 4 teams; Pitt and Syracuse both went 2-1. Syracuse, who finished the regular season 6-5 (and got crushed in their bowl game) actually beat Pitt that year, so a NFL-style second tiebreaker would have put them in a BCS game.

However, it's hard to imagine any BCS conference in the near-future being as thoroughly weak as the 2004 Big East, whose top 2 teams both defected the year before, and whose worst team had already been given notice that it was being kicked out.

113
by wildcardhater (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 4:36pm

#110 - Fair enough. I mistakenly expanded your position. My point is that 116 of 119 teams are affiliated. Why create a special exception for less than 3% of all teams. They don't need to be included if they don't want to affiliate.

#107 - In one sense, you are correct. There is no TRUE way of identifying the best team. It has often been said of SBIII that if the Colts and Jets had played 10 times, the Colts would have won 9 of them. They just didn't win the one that counted.

Here is the skinny. Teams within conferences play each other in a round-robin (or round-robin within smaller divisions with a championship head-to-head). The conference champion is the team with the best record AGAINST IDENTICAL COMPETITION. This is fair. If I play the same teams that you do and beat them all, while you lose one or two, I am considered to be the better team. I understand that there are always anomalies, however, won-lost record against common opponents is the best objective measure of relative team strength.

Because of the large number of teams in Division 1-A, it is impossible to have a round-robin among all teams. Therefore, the teams must be split into divisions (or conferences) where they can have a manageable round-robin schedule. The problem that results is that there is no good OBJECTIVE way to measure strength between teams that are in different divisions. The ideal circumstance would be to take the 11 champions and play them in a round-robin but that would add ten games to each team's schedule. I think we can all agree that a 22 game schedule is too much for any college football team.
Therefore the most efficient way is to have a single elimination tournament among the conference champions. In this way, each teams relative strength is measured in the only objective way possible: head-to-head matchups.

How do we know that the mid-major champions are "clearly" not the better teams? The only (non-subjective) way to find out is to let them play against the other conference champions.

114
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 4:56pm

How do we know that the mid-major champions are “clearly� not the better teams?

The only Sun Belt teams in the six-year history of the conference to have a .500-or-better I-A, non-conference record are Middle Tennessee State in 2001 (2-2) and Louisiana-Lafayette this year (2-2). No other conference is close to as bad, but I think we can be sure that the Sun Belt champion is not one of the best teams in the country.

115
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 5:35pm

Therefore, the teams must be split into divisions (or conferences) where they can have a manageable round-robin schedule.

But that's not the reason they were split into conferences in the first place - you're attempting to coopt an economic division for use as a parity division.

116
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 5:58pm

In terms of conferences and round-robins, I have to give credit to the Pac-10. In the Pac-10, in both football in basketball, every team plays every other team. In football, once, in basketball, twice. No conference championship game that leads to a team playing another team a second time and potentially losing.

Every team plays every other team, with tiebreakers in place if you have a rock-paper-scissors three-way tie (or more).

117
by wildcardhater (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 6:30pm

#115 - Nitpicking. It matters not why they were split into divisions, merely that they are.
Parity of division is not required. If Ohio State beats everyone in their conference, they are the best team in the Big Ten. If Boise State beats everyone in their conference, they are the best team in the WAC. If we want to determine the Division I-A National Champion, the BEST team in College Football, we don't need to determine if Boise State is better than Michigan. We only need to determine if they are better than Ohio State and the 9 other conference champions. Unless they happened to play each other in the non-conference games (unlikely in most circumstances) we need to PLAY THEM OFF.

#116 - I completely agree. The Pac-10 is a great purist conference. I wish all of the conferences were aranged like the Pac-10. My ideal world would be 11 conferences with 10 teams each & 1 conference with 9. Each team plays 9 (or 8) conference games and 2 (or 3) non-conference. No divisions, no conference championship games. Playoff among conference champions. But I'm a dreamer.

118
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 7:01pm

I'll stick with my idea of eight conference champs in the tournament, and if there was to be a play-in game bewteen the number nine conference champ, and the number eight, fine. Conference champs ten and eleven really would have no credible basis for claiming they belonged; heck, I doubt the number seven or eight seed would win once in 50 years.

Give home field advantage in the first round, and 90% of ticket revenues, to the teams which had the best nonconference performance against quality teams. Pat, I know you say that the BCS schedules are tough enough, but why not incentivize teams to at least try to play tougher nonconference games? Is not the ultimate goal to provide better entertainment?

Don't Army and Navy already belong to conferences? Notre Dame would bitch and moan, but if they were informed that it was the only way they could get to play on Jan 1 against a top ranked team for a national title, they'd agree to it. Hell, they already play four Big Ten teams a year! Of course, they would try to keep from divying up t.v money with the other Big Ten teams equally, but the Big Ten would have the upper hand in that negotiating battle.

I would hate to see the Big Ten go to a divisional set-up, with a championship game, likely in Chicago, however. It always bugged me, even back when they actually had ten teams, that they didn't play a round robin.

119
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 7:13pm

The conference champion is the team with the best record AGAINST IDENTICAL COMPETITION.

Not true- in fact, the Big East is the major conference that applies to.

How do we know that the mid-major champions are “clearly� not the better teams?

Therefore, the teams must be split into divisions (or conferences) where they can have a manageable round-robin schedule.

Or we can just leave well enough alone :)

120
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 7:18pm

The conference champion is the team with the best record AGAINST IDENTICAL COMPETITION.

Not true- in fact, the Big East is the major conference that applies to.

Plus the Pac-10, which, as Tarrant in #115 pointed out, mandated that its teams to use the extra 12th game this year as a 9th conference game, completing the round robin.

121
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 7:19pm

I have to give credit to the Pac-10. In the Pac-10, in both football in basketball, every team plays every other team. In football, once, in basketball, twice.

I need to amend my previous statement- the Pac-10 does it too.

Is this a recent change that I was unaware of? USC didn't play Oregon State last year, but they play all nine of the other Pac-10 teams this year.

122
by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 8:13pm

Kevin11 -- It's new, with the 12 games allowed for everyone, no special circumstances required scheduling rules (before there were a lot of ways to get a 12th game -- and even a 13th in the past -- but normally you couldn't get more than 11 regular season games).

123
by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 8:19pm

Don’t Army and Navy already belong to conferences?

No, at least not for football (I have some idea that they're in conferences that don't sponsor I-A football for other sports). Army was in CUSA for a while, but they left because it wasn't really working out for them. Navy's always been an indy.

124
by wildcardhater (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 9:16pm

#119 - you are quoting me out of context. I don't endorse a dramatic change to the conferences. See comment 104, point 2.

#120 - Once again, out of context. I was explaining the rationale for excluding good teams that do not win the conference from a playoff, and how my system would determine the "theoretical" BEST team.

The rub seems to be that most people want playoffs to include the 8 or 16 best TEAMS in the country. This appeals to their sense of fairness and also their desire to see high quality games in late December and January.
The principle behind restricting playoffs to conference champions is to prevent teams from getting a second chance (after losing in the regular season) to beat the same team in the playoffs. The reality of that system would be to allow mid-major teams to play playoff games in January. I understand that this possibility is highly unpopular with most fans and TV executives and unlikely to ever be implemented.

125
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 9:30pm

Wildcardhater, I read your comment and honestly thought you wanted to blow up the conferences. If I took what you said out of context, it wasn't intentional.

The rub seems to be that most people want playoffs to include the 8 or 16 best TEAMS in the country.

Not sure if most people want playoffs at all. Those that are dissatisfied tend to amplify the issue they're unhappy with, while the content remain quiet.

126
by Peter (not verified) :: Thu, 10/12/2006 - 4:10pm

There are three problems with the conference-champion-only logic, which have already been addressed obliquely:

1. Rock-paper-scissors champions
2. Champions that do not play another undefeated team in conference (Big 10)
3. Conference title game winners who lose to teams they beat during the regular season.

If every conference champion went undefeated in their conference and played every team, then wildcardhater is right that the only thing left to do is determine the champion between those teams. We can debate whether there is a reason to include the minor conferences, but it doesn't matter, they will never, ever win the national title.

But that isn't how it works. When you have teams that win their conference despite not proving dominance over all comers, you are unfairly excluding teams based on tiebreakers that are not based on the only thing you think matters, head-to-head competition. If you force conferences to be structured in a particular way (an amusing idea for everyone who has insisted on the value of conferences), you can avoid problems 2 and 3, but not problem 1.

As an additional problem for this method, what's the point of playing an out-of-conference schedule? I guess you just wouldn't, except as exhibition games/rivalry games.

Anyway, my personal opinion is that this method blows, even if you resolve the RPC problem (by allowing all claimed title-winners in, perhaps? A flexing tourney?). It's fair, to be sure, but it is not entertaining. I don't know if we want to view this like a normal college sport, in which case the goal is to crown a champion, or like an entertainment venture, in which case the goal should be maximum enjoyment/tension, which in my opinion lends itself to a 16-team tourney selected by committee.

125: Polls always show people prefer a playoff, particularly in light of how much the BCS sucks. I truly believe you are in the minority in your preference.

And waaaay back to 102:
I don't think there's as much money in playing Utah or Boise as there is playing other BCS teams. If I'm Ohio State, is there more money playing Boise or Miami? If there's no incentive to increase schedule strength, playing interesting games against teams people have heard of/have big fan bases (Alabama?) is better than small markets. Also, the suggestion that Utah and Boise play each other doesn't really do much for either team. In fact that would exacerbate the problem that causes you to want to split Division IA in half... it seems like two entirely different games are being played. Everyone will always determine Utah's strength by how many BCS teams it plays.

127
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 10/12/2006 - 5:27pm

Peter, I don't care about "fairness", because it is a quality entirely dependent on the vantage point of the observer. All I want to do is maximize the importance of conference games (I'm fine with each conference determining it's champion in any way they wish), discourage teams from deliberately attempting to schedule easy nonconference games, and provide the most entertaining matchups throughout the
month of December, leading up to a championship game around January 1st.

128
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/12/2006 - 7:43pm

Polls always show people prefer a playoff, particularly in light of how much the BCS sucks. I truly believe you are in the minority in your preference.

I readily concede that I may be in the minority, but the fact is thst polls are not accurate indicators of what constitutes a majority.

Think of Pete Rose five years ago. All of the polls said baseball should re-insatte him, but the results were skewed. If you thought Pete Rose deserved to be back in baseball, you fought for his cause. The rest of us simply said that Pete Rose got what he deserved, and moved along with our lives.

Does the BCS suck? I suppose it does if you're fixated on a playoff. To me, it was something that saved college football from a bowl system that completely collapsed in the early 90's.

129
by Peter (not verified) :: Thu, 10/12/2006 - 10:44pm

128: Why were the results skewed? I guess I'm not familiar with this particular poll, but the decision to block Pete Rose from the hall isn't made by the public, it's by baseball's organization. I'm not sure what the public is supposed to do about it, and no matter what, he's kind of a jerk so nobody probably cares that much.
The public cares about the BCS, and doesn't like it. I don't know how that can be disputed. The people in power don't want to change it, because there's money and contracts involved.
I'm "fixated" on having a system that creates an undisputed champion and provides a lot of excitement. The BCS soemtimes, but not always, succeeds at the former, and is good, but not great, at the latter.

127: Fairness isn't totally dependent on the observer... consensus can be reached, and I think this system can clearly be improved upon. I understand your point though.

I guess your 8 team playoff succeeds in your stated goals, though I feel it suffers from the same problems as the 11 team champions-only method. It's very good for encouraging the importance of regular season games though... you should play a hard out-of-conference slate, because if you win you'll get a good seeding, and if you lose, whatever, your conference is all that really matters.