Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

CoxMar15.jpg

» Varsity Numbers: Honing in

Bill Connelly again looks at which college football teams the F/+ ratings are sure about, and which teams remain a mystery (led by Appalachian State).

30 Oct 2006

Confessions of a Football Junkie: Dominoes Falling

by Russell Levine

Saturday's upset by Oregon State of USC, the first regular-season loss for the Trojans in more than three years, signaled the tumbling of the dominoes in college football's championship chase.

The first two months of the season are spent setting up the tiles, as various scenarios play out with the weekly machinations of the human polls and the computers that make up the Bowl Championship Series standings. By the time the fallout from an upset such as the USC loss is evaluated, whole new scenarios have emerged.

Consider that just last week, the primary concerns of college football observers were that there would be three or more major-conference teams to finish undefeated, or that a one-loss team would finish above an undefeated Big East team in the final BCS standings. USC's loss helps those fears to abate, but a new troubling possibility has emerged. Could the Ohio State-Michigan loser earn a rematch in the national-championship game?

Next week is sure to bring some other issue for the much-maligned BCS. All of it serves to enforce the notion that it's somewhat pointless to worry too much about BCS scenarios until the calendar turns to late November.

That's not to suggest nothing was gleaned on Saturday. Far from it. Clearly, the big loser on the day was USC, which saw a 38-game regular-season winning streak snapped. The Trojans had been flirting with disaster of late, beating Washington State, Washington, and Arizona State by combined 19 points the last three weeks. Against the Beavers, USC finally dug itself a hole it couldn't get of, though the Trojans tried mightily. They committed four turnovers, allowed a punt return for a touchdown, and spotted Oregon State a 33–10 lead before rallying to get within two points with seven seconds remaining. But a two-point conversion pass from John David Booty was batted away harmlessly, leaving USC on the outside of the championship picture looking in. The Trojans still have a good chance to reach the Rose Bowl, but will need lots of help to climb back atop the list of once-beaten teams.

The other team that took a hit Saturday was Notre Dame. The Irish began the day in ninth place in the BCS standings, but ranked behind three other teams with just one loss. Notre Dame dominated Navy in Baltimore, earning its 43rd consecutive win over the Midshipmen, but still had far from a triumphant day. USC's loss means that Notre Dame won't be facing a top-three team when it takes on the Trojans to conclude the regular season. A win over highly ranked USC might have been enough to bump the Irish over some of the other one-loss contenders, but that seems unlikely now that USC has been beaten. It will become an even longer shot should the Trojans fall again to either Oregon or Cal.

USC's loss wasn't bad for everyone, however. The Oregon State celebration was loud and long, but there were also plenty of cheers coming from Big East campuses, particularly at West Virginia. USC's loss moves the idle Mountaineers to number three in the BCS standings. With the top two teams, Ohio State and Michigan yet to play each other, West Virginia should reach the title game if it wins all of its remaining contests.

West Virginia has taken heat for its soft schedule. Its toughest non-conference opponent was Maryland (which did the Mountaineers another favor Saturday by beating Florida State to improve to 6-2) but West Virginia had enough support among the human voters to reach fourth in the BCS standings last week. The human polls, where West Virginia is a solid no. 3 this week, count for two-thirds of the BCS formula. The other third is an average of six computer polls, which have not looked as kindly on the Mountaineers. Their computer average was just 14th last week, but that number will improve when West Virginia plays the other top teams in the Big East, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers.

West Virginia's game at Louisville Thursday night was long considered the game of the year in the Big East, but with the door open for the Mountaineers to reach the BCS title game, it now stands as one of the games of the year, period. Louisville, too, has BCS title game aspirations, and by moving up to fifth in the latest standings, the Cardinals have lessened the risk of getting jumped by a one-loss SEC team or the Ohio State-Michigan loser.

That last possibility illustrates the other piece of the USC fallout from Saturday. When Michigan moved into second in the BCS standings -- behind only Ohio State -- last week, speculation began that the loser of their contest could earn a rematch in the championship game. It seemed like a long shot at the time, especially with undefeated USC just a shade behind Michigan in the standings.

While still unlikely, a Michigan-Ohio State rematch would no longer be classified as a long shot after the USC loss. There is a large gap between those two and every other team in the BCS, and it's possible that if the game between the two on November 18 is a close one, the loser might remain second in the human polls, which would probably be enough to keep it in the top two of the BCS.

A word of caution to those who think it can't happen simply because "history has proven that losing late hurts more than losing early." I'm not sure that rule would apply if you lose a close game at the end of the season, on the road, to the top-ranked team. If Michigan loses say, 23-21, in Columbus, will the voters really drop them much below No. 2? Would you?

Since Michigan would likely hold its position in the computers in such a scenario, it's also possible the voters will drop the Wolverines lower than they otherwise might in order to prevent a title-game rematch. Even if that doesn't happen initially, the Big Ten's schedule could come into play here. There are still two weekends of play following the Michigan-Ohio State game, during which teams like West Virginia (which plays Rutgers on Dec. 2) and the SEC contenders (in their conference championship game) have further opportunities to state their case. In other words, just because 11-1 Michigan might be No. 2 on November 19 doesn't mean they'll be No. 2 come December 3, when BCS bids are handed out. You want to hear complaining? If an idle Michigan slips out of the title game because voters effectively decide to nullify a rematch, the BCS could be in for one of its worst years ever.

I doubt the rematch scenario would apply to Ohio State. The Buckeyes will be favored against Michigan and they will be playing at home. The voters will punish them for any kind of a loss more than they would Michigan.

Much will be said and written about the possibility of a rematch this week, most of it attached to some variety of complaint about the BCS. As college football observers argue and fret over the potential "nightmare scenarios," one wonders if the people in charge of the sport know don't exactly what they're doing.

The BCS is charged with an impossible task: fairly picking two of 119 teams to play for a championship in a sport without a playoff. Criticism is a given, and the next nice thing written about the BCS will be the first. But all the analysis, complaining and debate only serves to drive interest in the sport with the most peculiar championship chase of all. Where else but in college football could a two-point conversion play in Corvallis, Oregon, create joy in the streets of Morgantown, West Virginia?

John L. Smith Trophy

Miami's Larry Coker has all but accepted his impending dismissal. How else could he justify passing on the Hurricanes' best opportunity to tie Georgia Tech and send the game to overtime?

Coker failed to learn the lesson of Arizona State's Dirk Koetter a few weeks back, opting to kick off deep when trailing Georgia Tech by a touchdown with 2:37 left. Miami had just a single timeout, and by the time Georgia Tech punted, there were just 29 seconds left.

Was Coker quitting on his team? Or did he just not understand the nature of the new clock rules? Either way, he can take his JLS Trophy with him as he searches for a new job this offseason.

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.

Further explanation required for the following:

This is the week I finally gave up on trying to rank the SEC teams by degrees of separation (Arkansas beat Auburn who beat Florida who beat Tennessee). I'm ranking them by who I think would win a matchup between the teams on a neutral field this week. I believe Florida is the best of the lot in the SEC, and that's why they moved up seven spots -- not because they were so impressive in a seven-point win over Georgia.

We'll learn more about West Virginia Thursday night than we have all year. I think they're deserving of the high ranking, and they should play in the national championship game over any one-loss team should they go undefeated.

Rank Team Delta
1 Ohio State --
2 Michigan --
3 West Virginia 1
4 Florida 6
5 Texas --
6 Tennessee 5
7 Auburn 2
8 Louisville 1
9 Southern Cal 6
10 Arkansas 2
11 Boston College 1
12 California 1
13 Notre Dame 1
14 LSU 1
15 Clemson 9
16 Rutgers --
17 Boise State --
18 Wisconsin --
19 Texas A&M 1
20 Oregon 1
21 Oklahoma 1
22 Georgia Tech 2
23 Wake Forest --
24 Virginia Tech 2
25 Maryland 1

Dropped Out: Nebraska (#19), Missouri (#25).

Portions of this article appeared in Monday's New York Sun.

Posted by: Russell Levine on 30 Oct 2006

64 comments, Last at 02 Nov 2006, 3:54am by Vinny

Comments

1
by Fourth (not verified) :: Mon, 10/30/2006 - 10:53pm

Re: Russ

I like the ballot this week. Good idea throwing out the SEC beatpath. If Cal beats USC (likely, IMO), it will be destroyed anyway - USC > Arkansas > Auburn > Florida > Tennessee > Cal > USC.
That said, I am starting to think Arkansas is underrated. This isn't the team that got blown out by USC in week 1. I think they win 2 of their last big 3 (South Car, LSU, Tenn) and keep Auburn out of the SEC title game.

Re: 1
Ah, you're a Texas fan, I'm a Florida fan, I think Florida would win that matchup 6 times in 10. The reality is probably that it's 50/50, but Florida I think has the better shot at beating OSU. Of course, I still think the Big East champ goes undefeated and makes all this 1 loss talk irrelevant. Can't really argue with your top 10, except to say I have USC falling farther, to the 10-11 range.

Re: 2
Is USC really that much better than Cal? Or are they just at the top of that SEC beatpath I discussed earlier?
Do you really think Notre Dame could play with the SEC this year?

2
by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/30/2006 - 10:53pm

Coker will probably find another job next year, but I wonder where? His recruiting doesn't seem to have been impressive enough to get a job with a major program.

3
by Dervin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/30/2006 - 10:56pm

I like your last bit about the BCS, some writers say it turns the whole season into a playoff (double elimination?).

I can't see any playoff system where it won't cripple the "regular season." If you go with top 4/8/16 teams you'll have the top programs avoiding each other. No more Texas/Ohio State, USC/ND. We'll be treated to schedules making WVU's look tough.

If you go with the BCS Conf champs, you'll eventually have a champion who sneaks in gets hot and wins it all with an 11-3 record.

4
by Fourth (not verified) :: Mon, 10/30/2006 - 10:57pm

Wow, daylight savings bug?

Post 1 corrections due to the time errors that put my comment at the top:

Re: 1 refers to vr's post

Re: 2 refers to Kevin11's post

If this is already fixed...sorry :)

5
by Derek (not verified) :: Mon, 10/30/2006 - 10:57pm

I know this is off-topic but does anyone want a pair of free tickets to the Michigan-Ball State game this Saturday? I'm in Brooklyn and can't make it to the game but I would love for someone to use them. If Russell or Vinny knows someone in Ann Arbor that can use them, that would work too.

I'll send them to the first person who asks.

6
by vr (not verified) :: Mon, 10/30/2006 - 11:05pm

I still think that Texas should be ranked higher than West Virginia. I understand that they got killed by OSU. With the teams and how much they have changed since that September day, I think that on a neutral field, UT gives OSU all it can handle. I think that UT would be able to beat West Virginia because their defense would be able to slow Slaton and White down. The two of them could still combine for 300 yards, but I think they could keep them to under 20 points and I think the Longhorns could put 24 to 30 points on them.

Regarding Florida, I think that if Florida and Texas played 10 times on a neutral field, I think UT would win 6 but Florida would win 4. I think the UT defense could slow down Florida's offense and I think Florida's defense could slow down McCoy. But I think Colt McCoy has really grown up and I think he has shown that he is no Chris Simms but he has "it" and that he can command his team already.

If it were me, I would rank it:

1. OSU
2. Michigan
3. Texas
4. Florida
5. West Virginia
6. Tennessee
7. USC
8. Louisville
9. Auburn
10. Arkansas

7
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 10/30/2006 - 11:17pm

I just got a wedding invitation in the mail today. I stopped reading at "Saturday, November the Eighte..."

You've got to be freaking kidding me. No freaking way.

I just picked it up again, thinking maybe he had done something to salvage the situation. Like, wedding a few hours before kickoff, turn the reception into a big OSU/Michigan party or something. Not ideal, but I think I'd go if there were big screens, or a Godzillatron, at the reception. Nope. Screw him.

8
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/30/2006 - 11:19pm

Just for kicks, here's my Top 25:

Week 8:
1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. West Virginia
4. Texas
5. USC
6. Arkansas
7. Auburn
8. Notre Dame
9. Florida
10. Tennessee
11. Louisville
12. Cal
13. Boston College
14. Rutgers
15. Wisconsin
16. LSU
17. Boise State
18. Texas A & M
19. Wake Forest
20. Oklahoma
21. Virginia Tech
22. Washington State
23. Clemson
24. Oregon
25. Georgia Tech

9
by oljb (not verified) :: Mon, 10/30/2006 - 11:24pm

What if Rutgers goes undefeated along with either OSU or Michigan?

10
by Kevin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/30/2006 - 11:50pm

I think the BCS will be "rigged" so that West Virginia is the only possible Big East undefeated team to make the championship game. That's odd considering the awful non-conference schedule they've played. Most of the respect for WVU comes from last year's Sugar Bowl. The scenario I'm most interested in is whether a great OSU-MICH game (similar to ND-USC '05) could get a rematch in a championship game if the only other undefeated team is Louisville (or Rutgers... haha!). I love ND, but they don't deserve to be anywhere near a championship game.

11
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 12:12am

What if Rutgers goes undefeated along with either OSU or Michigan?

Interesting question.

My guess is that they'd play for the National Championship, despite a sorry NC schedule. Rutgers would be too good a story to pass up.

But IMOHO a 12 - 0 Rutgers team should be ranked behind an 11 - 1 SEC Champ.

12
by Kyle J (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 12:53am

". . . it’s also possible the voters will drop the Wolverines lower than they otherwise might in order to prevent a title-game rematch."

That sentence sums up the ludicrousness of the BCS system. In what other major sport in the entire world, would people stand for the participants in the championship game being so blatantly subject to the whims of a group of voters?

If New England beats Indianapolis next week, which team do you think the voters will pick to play the Bears in the Super Bowl? (I'm being ridiculous, of course, but is this sentence any more ridiculous than the one quoted above?)

And how would a playoff system discourage nonconference match-ups more than the current system? If I'm USC rights now, my best shot at the BCS game is going undefeated. The rational thing would be to drop ND from the schedule. It's much more likely that a loss to ND will prevent me from playing in the BCS game than that a win over ND will help me beat out another undefeated team (because most years there aren't more than two undefeated teams from BCS conferences). With a playoff system based on conference champions, I'd play ND, know I could still get in to the playoffs if I win the Pac-10, and have the benefit of the experience of playing a top team from outside my conference.

As for the possibility of an 11-3 national champion, (1) it's pretty unlikely a team that had lost that many games would get in and then be able to beat 3 or 4 of the top 8-16 teams in the country and (2) it would be the cost of having a system under which more than 5 or 6 teams have a chance to win the national championship with more than a month left in the regular season.

13
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 1:12am

In what other major sport in the entire world

But that's what makes college football SPECIAL! It isn't like any other sport. I truly enjoy it's uniqueness.

When New England and Indy play next week...not much will be on the line. When Michigan and Ohio State play, it'll be the game of the decade.

14
by Vinny (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 1:26am

Kevin, I agree that is among its many unique qualities. But one man's uniqueness is another's migraine headache.

Derek, I'll check around but I think tix are plentiful this weekend in AA. Thanks for the offer though.

Trogdor, I take it this isn't an OSU alum who's getting married on 11/18. A college buddy of mine (and Michigan grad) got married during the UM-OSU game in 1998. I gave him so much grief that he gave me the keys to his place so I could watch the game on his big screen TV while he was getting married at the church down the street. Of course, that game was a rout for Coop & Co. (had to happen eventually), so I made the final minutes of the ceremony and eschewed the final painful moments of the game when it was apparent Tom Brady wasn't going to pull off a miracle.

15
by Dennis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 1:39am

Kevin, I agree that is among its many unique qualities. But one man’s uniqueness is another’s migraine headache.

Yup. IMO, putting a one-loss team in the national championship game over an undefeated team would just be more evidence of the absurdity of college football. A team can only play the teams on their schedule. If Rutgers finsihes undefeated, they would deserve to play OSU over a one-loss Michigan team.

And let's not forget about Boise State. If they aren't going to get any consideration, then demote them to I-AA and end the hyporcrisy.

16
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 2:18am

Re Russ: I couldn't agree more about your thoughts on a Michigan-Ohio St rematch. Home field advantage is so huge in college football, and I've always been a very ardent believer that you cannot lose at home and still lay claim to being a Nat'l Title Contender and I personally don't think it matters when that home loss occurred (this season, I'm looking at you Texas, and you Notre Dame, and you Tennessee). If your only loss is on the road to a ranked team, I think you should still be in the conversation.

And let me be clear...those who know me know that I've preached this for about the last 15 years...not just this year when it fits my team's agenda.

Therefore, if Michigan loses at Ohio St, and it's a close game, I would not complain about a rematch. If Ohio St loses, they should not be given a rematch. I feel very strongly about this.

If Michigan wins, I think the title game should be Michigan vs. either West Virginia or Florida (assuming both teams win out...I think a very strong argument could be made for either team).

17
by Chris M (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 2:23am

I always sort of bought the "every game is a playoff" argument about the BCS, until I actually started watching college football for the season this week. I follow college football fairly casually, and decided to check out the unbeaten teams this week. The USC-Oregon St. game was great - but now I don't care about any more USC games, because they're out of the national title hunt. That's the thing about playoff games - they're more important than the others, so every "regular season" game on the schedule pales in comparison to Ohio St. v. whoever.

Now, imagine a playoff system with even 8 teams. All the games involving 1 loss teams now get that much more interesting, because they can still get into the playoff. USC-Notre Dame would probably be a huge game, with the winner making the playoffs and the loser not.

Someone's probably thought of this before, but it seemed brilliant to me when I was sitting on my couch after the USC game.

18
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 2:29am

A team can only play the teams on its schedule would be a nice argument if the program didn't have control over its schedule.

If some team played all top10 teams all year and went say 6-3 I would want them in the championship game 100% over some 12-0 team that never played another ranked team. I have zero sympathy with teams whose schedule is too weak. Play better teams if you know your conference sucks!

19
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 2:35am

"When New England and Indy play next week…not much will be on the line. When Michigan and Ohio State play, it’ll be the game of the decade."

Is this sarcasm? New England and Indy will be huge in the race for home field advantage in the playoffs. While Indy certainly is capable of losing at home in the playoffs (as they did last year against Pittsburgh), I'm sure they'd rather play New England in a playoff rematch at home indoors rather than in the elements in Foxborough. And if New England loses, they will be tied with Denver at 5-2, with Denver holding a tiebreaker edge over them. If they end up behind Indy and Denver, they won't even have a first round bye.

As for Michigan and Ohio State, it may be the game of the decade, if by "decade" you mean "this season." How is that game any bigger than USC-Texas this past January, the biggest game ever according to many? Or USC-Oklahoma the year before, which was hyped at that time as the biggest game ever?

20
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 2:39am

Whoops, that should be 6-2 for New England (and Denver, assuming they win next week) if New England loses to Indy.

21
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 3:49am

Now, imagine a playoff system with even 8 teams. All the games involving 1 loss teams now get that much more interesting, because they can still get into the playoff. USC-Notre Dame would probably be a huge game, with the winner making the playoffs and the loser not.

Heck, why not expand a playoff to 16 teams? Boston College-Miami on Thanksgiving? A must-watch. Or 32? Wake Forest-Maryland on November 25th becomes a battle for the #8 seed in the Southeast.

I've said it before, but I believe a college football playoff should include only teams with a legitimate claim to having been the best team in the country during the regular season. This means limiting the playoff to as few teams as possible. Notre Dame, who lost by 26 at home in a game that was 34-14 at halftime, can not make such a claim.

Play better teams if you know your conference sucks!

Which conferences would those be?
Most of the computer rankings (the Colley Matrix is an exception), rank the BCS conferences in the following way:

1. Pac-10 or SEC
2. SEC or Pac-10
3. Big East or Big-10
4. Big-10 or Big East
5. ACC
6. Big 12

Louisville scheduled Miami; is it their fault that that program suddenly went to seed? Imagine if Notre Dame had faltered this year, like in 1999, 2001, or 2003; Michigan's other non-conference games, all at home, were Vandy, Central Michigan, and Ball State. (Note: I am absolutely not saying that Louisville is a better team than Michigan.)

22
by Dervin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 4:59am

Kyle J - I'm talking about two different playoff systems, that's been thrown around.

If you take the top 4/8/16 ranked teams regardless of confrence, you'll get teams padding their schedule more than they do now.

If you go with Confrence Champs, Big 12, ACC and SEC have title games. So a 6-3 Nebraska could sneak in. Or a 6-2 Ga Tech. While we like to say a 3 loss team won't win it all, the playoffs would be single elimination and anything could happen. See for example the St. Louis Cards this year.

While there would be less need to schedule Non-conf cupcakes, there would be less reward to take a risk against a strong Non-Conf team. Do you coach to win or try some new stuff out.

My idea is one guy chooses who should be playing for the championship. We choose two years before his game through a lottery. The guy will express what qualities he's looking for the championship teams, so those teams can adjust their schedule accordingly.

For example, in my choice, creampuff schedules would be punished.

23
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 9:14am

How is that game any bigger than USC-Texas this past January, the biggest game ever according to many? Or USC-Oklahoma the year before, which was hyped at that time as the biggest game ever?

Because it's Michigan vs Ohio State, which is the most intense rivalry in college football.

When Jim Tressel was first hired to coach OSU, he did a speech at a Buckeye basketball game. He cited exactly how many days it was until the Michigan game (three hundred and something) and vowed to beat the Wolverines. The place went nuts.

#1 OSU v #2 Michigan? That's a far bigger game than last year's Rose Bowl. It might not be a *better* game, but it's bigger.

At the risk of sounding condescending (not my intention), if you disagree, you don't get college football.

24
by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 10:30am

#1 OSU v #2 Michigan? That’s a far bigger game than last year’s Rose Bowl. It might not be a *better* game, but it’s bigger.

I doubt that nation-wide it is. OSU-Michigan is obviously a more intense rivalry and to the fans of those two schools, this game will certainly be bigger. The TV ratings will give a decent measure of that. But I doubt that the casual college football fan - or the intense SEC fan for example - sees a November conference #1 vs. #2 as bigger than a similar matchup in January between teams from different regions. The loser of the November game has an outside chance of making it to the BCS championship; the loser of the January game has "no tomorrow".

25
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 10:42am

That sentence sums up the ludicrousness of the BCS system. In what other major sport in the entire world, would people stand for the participants in the championship game being so blatantly subject to the whims of a group of voters?

Well, when the BCS first came out, the human polls were much less important. That was one of the strengths of the system. And then the computers put a one-loss Nebraska in the championship game, and a one-loss Oklahoma in the championship game, and then all of a sudden the computers were stupid and the human polls became the standard of excellence.

Everytime the BCS formula has disagreed with the human polls, the formula has been changed after a public outcry. First it was the removal of the strength of schedule component. Then it was the severe reduction in the contribution of the computer polls.

I too believe the human polls are very poor, but for some reason, if the BCS spits out two teams not in the top two in the polls, the fans get bent all out of joint.

26
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 11:44am

The changes go back before that - there was the addition of quality wins, which I think was to right the Miami-Florida State "wrong", and was later removed. But you're right. To me, it seems that every time the BCS formula selects two teams other than the two that the masses would take, the formula is changed so that it would have taken the popular two instead.

I don't think Michigan-Ohio State is a bigger game than USC-Texas if you aren't in Big Ten country, any more than, say, a similar USC-UCLA matchup would be bigger than a Michigan-Florida national championship game outside the Pac 10 area. Some college fans (like most of us here) appreciate the long-time rivalries, but they don't necessarily carry the same weight, even when the game itself is a throwback to the days of the Big Two.

I watched the last quarter-plus of USC-Oregon State (thank goodness for the Sports Pack on DirecTV) - one thing about college football is that even with the new clock stupidity, leads are a lot more fluid than in the pros (as we could see from JLS himself). As much as I wanted the Beavers to win, I could see that USC was coming back, and everyone there seemed to know it.

I think I'd rather not see a Michigan-Ohio State rematch. It's bad enough losing to your archrivals; it would be worse to lose to them in the title game.

27
by J.D. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 12:06pm

#11, #15: Although I appreciate Rutgers being a good story, they no more deserve to play in the NC game than Mount Union. It's true that you can only play the teams on your schedule, but who makes the schedule? Exactly. If you want a shot at the NC, you should play a non-conference schedule better than UNC, Illinois, Ohio, and Howard, especially if you're in a relatively weak conference. Scheduling non-conference cupcakes is fine, but schools should do it knowing that it will all but eliminate their team from championship consideration. The same applies to Boise State... respect, but no championship.

28
by Dave (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 12:21pm

I'm very much on the side of avoiding rematches under the current system, to the point where if I had a vote at the end of the year, Michigan, err, the OSU/Michigan loser, and Texas would be the lowerst-ranked major-conference/ND one-loss teams. In the unlikely event that Michigan wins, ND and OSU would get similar treatment.

#22, if you have a playoff with guaranteed spots for conference champs and a small number of at large bids, I'd think it encourages tougher non-conference schedules. There's not going to be much to distinguish the 2 (in an 8-team BCS 6 + 2 at-large) or 5 (in the 11 conference champs + 5 at-large format I favor) at-large teams in all likelyhood; quality non-conference wins will probably make the difference to the selection committee.

29
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 12:24pm

Re: the BCS and the faiblesse of the computers

The computers don't get columns in magazines or newspapers to lambaste the choices of the writers or the coaches. Everyone seems to forget that the BCS was created because everyone bitched about the polls. Well, now everyone complains about the computers. Does that make the BCS wrong, or does that make the complainers wrong?

My vote is "B". Of course, as a 'Canes fan, this season has been dead for me for quite a while.

-Sean

30
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 12:34pm

Selection committee, selection committee, selection committee.

31
by hrudey (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 12:46pm

Maybe it's just being an unabashed Gator homer, but I hate the idea of a rematch of a late-season game (especially with ties no longer a factor) for a BCS championship. I won't ask the school to give back the '96-97 title, mind you. Still, if Michigan loses to tOSU, they had their shot -- if Michigan loses by three in Columbus and wins by one on a neutral site in a rematch, how can you say that either team is the champion when they split two close games? Better to let the #1 team play the best team remaining that they haven't already beaten. Of course, if someone ends up undefeated, this should be moot.

32
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 12:46pm

Well, when the BCS first came out, the human polls were much less important. That was one of the strengths of the system.

No, it wasn't a strength of the system. There were a large number of problems with the initial system, including the fact that statistical rankings were essentially double-counted via the schedule and quality win components, and the fact that the high weight of the statistical rankings hid the fact that there's just a large amount of intrinsic error in the system which isn't counted, due to the fact that the statistical rankings aren't very independent, unlike the human polls (not the two polls themselves - the voters).

In fact, the BCS formula itself is extremely similar to Sagarin's "combined" rating, where the statistical rankings are a pure win/loss based ranking, and the human polls are a strength of victory based ranking.

Everytime the BCS formula has disagreed with the human polls, the formula has been changed after a public outcry

This isn't the reason the formula was changed. It was a catalyst for it - a very powerful catalyst - but the suggestions implemented in 2004 had been talked about for years.

I've pointed out the link before, and I don't have time to do it now, but if you just search for "2004 BCS changes" you can find some of the articles statisticians have wrote about the changes (some good, some bad - there's always disagreement).

But it is just a better way to do things.

Does that make the BCS wrong, or does that make the complainers wrong?

My vote is for B as well, especially considering the fact that the statistical rankings are many, many years old (some are hundreds of years old) with a large amount of statistical work behind them.

33
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 12:58pm

Well, when the BCS first came out, the human polls were much less important. That was one of the strengths of the system.

No, it wasn't a strength of the system. There were a large number of problems with the initial system, including the fact that statistical rankings were essentially double-counted via the schedule and quality win components, and the fact that the high weight of the statistical rankings hid the fact that there's just a large amount of intrinsic error in the system which isn't counted, due to the fact that the statistical rankings aren't very independent, unlike the human polls (not the two polls themselves - the voters).

In fact, the BCS formula itself is extremely similar to Sagarin's "combined" rating, where the statistical rankings are a pure win/loss based ranking, and the human polls are a strength of victory based ranking.

Everytime the BCS formula has disagreed with the human polls, the formula has been changed after a public outcry

This isn't the reason the formula was changed. It was a catalyst for it - a very powerful catalyst - but the suggestions implemented in 2004 had been talked about for years.

I've pointed out the link before, and I don't have time to do it now, but if you just search for "2004 BCS changes" you can find some of the articles statisticians have wrote about the changes (some good, some bad - there's always disagreement).

But it is just a better way to do things.

Does that make the BCS wrong, or does that make the complainers wrong?

My vote is for B as well, especially considering the fact that the statistical rankings are many, many years old (some are hundreds of years old) with a large amount of statistical work behind them.

The only thing that's wrong with the statistical rankings this year (and hopefully would be changed) is the fact that they're converting a number (like 0.895595) into a ranking (like 3), so the fact that in most rankings #3-#10 are basically completely identical is lost.

That change has also been talked about before, so if things get changed after this year (and they might, if things go wrong) it wouldn't be just a magical change either.

34
by DrewTS (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 1:00pm

Re 18

Louisville scheduled Miami; is it their fault that that program suddenly went to seed?

Point taken, but I think he was referring more to Rutgers and Boise State (from post 15). Rutgers' non-conference schedule was North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio and Howard. That's two expected BCS conference doormats, a MAC team and a I-AA team. Not impressive. If Rutgers goes undefeated, they deserve a BCS game, but not the championship game.

Boise State's schedule is also not impressive, although it does feature a blowout win over the Oregon State team that just beat USC. Weird. But when Oregon State and Hawaii are the best teams you play all year, you can't complain about not being considered a championship-level team.

I give Louisville credit for scheduling a team that should have been good. That at least shows they were trying to bring their SOS up.

35
by Hasselhoff (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 1:09pm

Everyone always talks about a playoff system in terms of 4, 8, or 16 teams. Why not make it 12 teams, and give credit to the top 4 by giving them a bye week? This way, you get the advantages of pro football, where the rested top seeds almost always win. You could even have the first two rounds as home games and make the final 4 neutral site "bowl" games to make the likelihood of a 2 or 3 loss team winning it all extremely low. As with basketball, I am sure that #'s 13-16 would be complaining each year, but with home games and bye weeks it's not like they could claim they would have been likely to win it all. One great beauty of playoff systems is rooting for the underdog, who even if they lost two regular season games, would have to earn a title by beating 4 top 10 teams in a row, two of them on the road.

36
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 1:09pm

Although I appreciate Rutgers being a good story, they no more deserve to play in the NC game than Mount Union. It’s true that you can only play the teams on your schedule, but who makes the schedule?

If Rutgers goes undefeated, they will have beaten the teams currently ranked #3 and #8, as well as another team receiving votes in the AP and Coaches poll (Pittsburgh), as well as three other teams currently with winning records.

Teams in BCS conferences have a hard enough in-conference schedule as it is. If Rutgers goes undefeated, they should be playing for the NC.

Boise State is another story.

37
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 1:16pm

Rutgers’ non-conference schedule was North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio and Howard.

Ignore Howard. Just pretend the game didn't exist - with teams jumping to 12-game schedules, a lot of teams had to schedule I-AA opponents because there weren't any I-A opponents left to schedule quickly, and they didn't have time to wait.

As for Illinois and UNC: most teams schedule games what, 5-7 years in advance? Back in 1999-2001, Illinois was 8-4, 5-6, and 10-2. That doesn't exactly scream "doormat" to me. UNC, around the same time, was 3-8, 6-5, and 8-5, and just a few years before had been 10-2 and 11-1.

38
by MLA (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 4:40pm

I think people are greatly over-simplifying things in acting as if teams have total control over their non-conference schedule. This just isn't true, particularly when we talk about minor teams (i.e. Rutgers and Boise State) who aren't going to be able to get regular games against major teams (i.e. Texas and Ohio State). Why? Because the major team doesn't have anything to gain from playing a team like Boise State. Beat Boise State and nobody is all that impressed (your supposed to beat them). Lose to Boise State and kiss your hopes of a championship goodbye and get lambasted in the press.
The other elephant in the room for these smaller programs is home games. Many of these teams need home games to make the kind of money that keeps their program afloat. Even if Boise State could get a game against a good to great team (i.e. Nebraska), do you think that good team would play a home and home with Boise State? The answer is no way.
Lastly, remember that many of these games are scheduled years in advance. Is it the team's fault when an opponent collapses during the time between scheduling and playing a game? Also, minor programs only compete for a BCS Bowl or national title every few years (or few decades) so should they put together a killer non-conference schedule every year (and get destroyed most years) just so they'll have the non-conference schedule cred during the one year they're competitive?

39
by Kyle J (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 4:41pm

I definitely agree that college football is "unique" with respect to how it determines its champion. More specifically:

1) College football is the only sport in which you can win every game on your schedule and not get the opportunity to play for a championship.

2) It's the only sport in which teams can't say with certainty going into a season what criteria they have to meet to earn an opportunity to win a championship that year.

3) It's the only sport in which a loss in the first week of the season can effectively end a team's chances of playing for a championship.

4) It's the only sport where less than 10% of the teams involved have any chance whatsoever of winning the sports's championship with 1/3 of the season yet to play.

There's always a trade-off between (1) creating excitement by keeping more teams' hopes alive late in the season and (2) ensuring that the ultimate champion is deserving based on their overall performance. No doubt the NBA and NHL have swung too far toward (1). IMO, college football leans far too strongly toward (2). Ultimately, I think this will drive fans away. I'm a Michigan State fan. At this point, the only two games left this year I play to watch in their entirety are the OSU-UM game and the National Championship game.

40
by oljb (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 4:47pm

Although it's less of an issue now that the Big East is demonstrably superior to the ACC (at least for this year), it wasn't the choice of WVU, Pitt, Rutgers etc, to stop playing VT and Miami every year. The idea that the Big East was not BCS-quality seemed to have a great deal of traction until recently, but one can hardly blame the teams that didn't betray the conference for the sudden (although temporary) drop-off in competition.

41
by Vinny (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 6:43pm

Re: non-conference scheduling, the schedules are often set years (sometimes as many as 5-10 years) in advance. What looks like a quality opponent a few years from now (Colorado or Miami) could turn into a turkey the year the game is played. And once in a while the reverse is true. Of course, there are still cases where it's obvious that a program made no effort to schedule anyone of difficulty (e.g., a steady diet of D-I-AA/Sun Belt schools).

42
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 7:11pm

Re #39
It's the only sport in which one of the 66 most prominent teams (65 BCS + Notre Dame) is almost guaranteed of getting to play for the championship if they end up with the best won-loss record. I love the NCAA basketball tournament, but you rarely see two of the 10 best teams, as demonstrated over the course of the entire season, play each other in the championship game, let alone 2 of the top 2 or 3.

43
by Dennis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 7:15pm

Re 33: No, it wasn’t a strength of the system. There were a large number of problems with the initial system, including the fact that statistical rankings were essentially double-counted via the schedule and quality win components, and the fact that the high weight of the statistical rankings hid the fact that there’s just a large amount of intrinsic error in the system which isn’t counted, due to the fact that the statistical rankings aren’t very independent, unlike the human polls (not the two polls themselves - the voters).

I agree that the original formula was flawed because schedule strength was over-emphasized and also that thing with losses. But every change to the formula has been to make the objective criteria (computer rankings) have less weight and the subjective criteria (polls) have more weight.

It goes back to the underlying issue that most people believe their opinions are correct regardless of the evidence. If someone believes that Florida is better than Michigan, he's going to discount any objective facts that are to the contrary.

What they need to do is decide the criteria that teams should be ranked by and then develop a formula that ranks teams by those criteria. And make it public.

44
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 7:41pm

Of course, there are still cases where it’s obvious that a program made no effort to schedule anyone of difficulty (e.g., a steady diet of D-I-AA/Sun Belt schools).

Hello, Wisconsin! Their non-conference schedule: 4-5 Bowling Green (average computer rating: 78 of 119) in Cleveland , 4-5 Western Illinois (I-AA), 1-6 San Diego State (105), and 1-7 Buffalo (118). Plus, they managed to skip Ohio State this year.

45
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 9:35pm

But every change to the formula has been to make the objective criteria (computer rankings) have less weight and the subjective criteria (polls) have more weight.

Well, yes. That's because the statistical rankings - especially without scoring information - have been pretty noticeably overrated.

Statistical rankings can't distinguish between unbeaten teams, other than to essentially give a lower limit. The error distribution for unbeatens (and winless, but this is less important) is totally different than for teams with losses. So now you get the situation of when you want the objectivity the most (the top teams), it's the least useful.

Now, given that they're least useful for top ranked teams, the question then becomes "how does just one loss help you all that much?" and you realize that a lot of the predictive nature of the ratings comes from the lower teams in the Top 25, when there's multiple losses available.

Increasing the objective weight would help you determine more accurately whether or not Michigan in 2005 (at 7-5) should be ranked higher than Louisville (at 9-3), but it wouldn't help you nearly as much to decide between Ohio State and West Virginia in 2005, for instance.

And it can't help at all deciding between Ohio State, Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, Louisville, and Boise State. In fact, it shouldn't even use statistical rankings for unbeaten teams. That should purely be done by the polls.

46
by Oldcat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 9:42pm

The prevailing assumption that a one loss team can't possibly be the National Champion if anyone around is undefeated is the major contributor to the creampuff scheduling, extra home games, and unsporting blowout games that dominates College football. If it wasn't for tradition, OSU and Michigan would be better off playing Ball State for the extra W, instead of risking losing all hope of a championship by beating each other up. Certainly the voters have little interest in strength of schedule.

The reason a playoff of any sort would help the situation is that to make it through a tourney you have to have the ability to beat good teams. This requires practice. So it would be better to risk a loss or two by playing good teams than schedule that extra creampuff division Z school and winning 132-0.

A 12 team field with fixed bids for major conference winners and some at-large wild cards would take in all of the contenders in a given year. Have a championship bowl and a consolation bowl and 2 playoff bowls rotate between Sugar, Fiesta, Rose and Orange bowls. Use minor bowls for the four first round playoffs.

47
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 10:06pm

In fact, it shouldn’t even use statistical rankings for unbeaten teams. That should purely be done by the polls.

But then you get situations like 2004, where Auburn, starting out ranked 17th, and Utah, starting out 20th, had no real chance to overcome USC and Oklahoma, who started 1-2. (Plus Boise State, but I'll ignore them for now, especially since they lost their bowl game.)

Would it be possible to use some margin-of-victory factor to separate the unbeatens? I'm not talking about a pure points-based MOV that can't distinguish two different one-score victories (say, Penn State-Indiana, 1994 and Boston College-BYU, 2006), but one that asks simple questions about the quality of the victory, like:

1. Did the team lead at halftime?

2. Did the team lead after x possessions?

3. Did the team's opponent have the ball with the chance to tie or take the lead in the 4th quarter?

I'm not entirely sure how this would work, but I'm throwing the idea out there.

48
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 10:25pm

I doubt that nation-wide it is. OSU-Michigan is obviously a more intense rivalry and to the fans of those two schools, this game will certainly be bigger. The TV ratings will give a decent measure of that. But I doubt that the casual college football fan - or the intense SEC fan for example - sees a November conference #1 vs. #2 as bigger than a similar matchup in January between teams from different regions.

I live in Massachussetts, where no one cares about college football, so I see things from a national perspective rather than a regional one :)

To me UM v tOSU play at the end of the year as #1 vs #2 is like seeing the Red Sox and the Yankees play in the World Series...except the latter scenario could never happen.

Kinda sucks that the season is almost over.

49
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 10:44pm

But then you get situations like 2004, where Auburn, starting out ranked 17th, and Utah, starting out 20th, had no real chance to overcome USC and Oklahoma, who started 1-2.

What if Auburn had won every single one of its games by 60 points? Think the polls wouldn't've ranked them higher then?

They actually would've had more of a chance if the statistical rankings had been properly excluded.

Would it be possible to use some margin-of-victory factor to separate the unbeatens?

Nah. It's biased. Defensive teams win more games with a small margin of victory than higher teams do, and anything from 1-7 points is an essentially identical.

It's also pace-based. A game that is 20 drives long will have an average margin of victory different than a game that's 30 drives long.

2. Did the team lead after x possessions?

Again, hurts defensive teams playing a field position game.

I’m not entirely sure how this would work, but I’m throwing the idea out there.

You'd need a much more complicated metric than what you're suggesting, though. Football doesn't have an easy success metric. You've got three things which are valuable: yards, downs, and clock. Each of those three become more valuable at different points in the game, and teams frequently trade one for the other, so any metric that doesn't include all three is going to lack something.

50
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 11:15pm

What if Auburn had won every single one of its games by 60 points? Think the polls wouldn’t've ranked them higher then?

Maybe.

At the same time, I'm convinced that USC and Oklahoma were the two best teams in the 2004 regular season.

51
by Dervin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/31/2006 - 11:46pm

Auburn 2004 played a non-conf schedule that would make WVU blush.

52
by Russell Levine :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 11:50am

One rule I'd love to see the BCS implement is to require teams to be conference champion to play in the championship game. This would have avoided the two most embarrassing results in BCS history ... when Oklahoma played in the 2003 title game after getting killed in the Big 12 title game, and when Nebraska played for the 2001 title despite not reaching het Big 12 title game.

Yes, the conferences with championship games will cry unfair. Too bad. Those games are made-for-TV money grabs, and they should count for something. Want to be the best team in the nation? Start by being the best team in your conference. If your conference awards its title based one title game as opposed to a season-long competition, so be it.

53
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 12:30pm

At the same time, I’m convinced that USC and Oklahoma were the two best teams in the 2004 regular season.

I'm not trying to claim Auburn is, or anything. It's all hypothetical.

Imagine Auburn was the best team in 2004. Just imagine it.

Now, reverse my argument, and say "only the statistical rankings will be used to decide the NC teams." Auburn would have zero chance to get in, regardless of how they played. Only their opponents' won-loss records mattered. In this case, you are clearly not getting the result that you want.

They could've beaten everyone by 60 points, and it wouldn't've mattered. Keep in mind their non-conf schedule was weak, but their conference schedule wasn't bad, so could you imagine them not being in if they went out and beat LSU 60-0, Tennessee 53-10, Georgia 55-0, and just looked like a steamroller doing it?

I mean, it'd be better if the polls weren't so obviously screwed up with "poll inertia." But the polls are really the only fair way to decide between unbeaten teams (not that deciding between unbeaten teams is really fair, but that's a different discussion). The statistical rankings simply can't do it. The basic math behind most of the rankings just flat breaks down when trying to decide between unbeatens, because the ranking that maximizes probability for an unbeaten is always the highest ranking possible (because they've won all of their games).

The way that unbeaten teams get ranked is essentially totally different than beaten teams. Essentially, with beaten teams, the rankings say "this team could be ranked anywhere from X+Y to X-Y, but the most probable value is X", and that value's the ranking. With unbeaten teams, it's "this team could be ranked anywhere from X to Y, where Y is the highest rating possible. The most probable value is Y, but Y is the same for all unbeaten teams, so we'll use either X, or (X+Y/2)."

(With Laplace's method, the math doesn't break down, but the assumptions behind the math do.)

54
by Kyle J (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 12:32pm

"You’d need a much more complicated metric than what you’re suggesting, though. Football doesn’t have an easy success metric. You’ve got three things which are valuable: yards, downs, and clock. Each of those three become more valuable at different points in the game, and teams frequently trade one for the other, so any metric that doesn’t include all three is going to lack something."

I do think you could put together a good measure of single-game dominance by using historical information on yards, down, and clock to determine at what point in a game a team has effectively won the game--achieved, say, a 99% chance of winning the game. This would control for defensive- vs. offensive-oriented teams. And it wouldn't reward running up the score.

Probably too complicated to sell to the powers that be, though.

55
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 12:48pm

One rule I’d love to see the BCS implement is to require teams to be conference champion to play in the championship game.

There would have to be some provision to deal with the Big Ten, the only conference where multiple teams can go unbeaten in the regular season + conference championship. Had Wisconsin beaten Michigan, they, not Ohio State, would have the automatic BCS bid.

56
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 1:20pm

This would control for defensive- vs. offensive-oriented teams.

Not really - the historical average is going to be an average team, with equal numbers of defensive and offensive teams. So a 17-10 lead in the 4th quarter won't look wonderful, because lots of teams, say, with good offense and poor defense vs a team with bad offense and good defense could end up losing that game often, but a team with a good offense and great defense versus a team with a bad offense and a great defense would end up winning that game often.

It's a much nastier problem than you think. Teams play to beat the other team, not to advance a metric, like in baseball (teams will always continue to try to score runs). Sure, you can find ways to simplify it, but those simplifications will always be biased.

And, probably more importantly, it will be biasable. That is, smart coaches who are undefeated will alter their game approach to maximize value in that system. And that's something you absolutely, completely and utterly, cannot allow to happen.

57
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 1:21pm

Regarding conference champions, I agree. A team should not be in the title game unless it is the champion of its conference. If one moves to a playoff where there are at-large bids, then OK. As long as there's no playoff, the representatives in the title game should be conference champions.

As for conferences with title games crying foul, while it's true the conference championship games are money grabs, it's also true that one reason for the conference championship games are that the conferences have so many teams that it becomes the "best" way. Conferences with championship games look down on, say, the Pac 10, saying that "They don't have to play a championship game!" But neither does the NFC East, because those teams all play each other. Most sports - in fact, I would say pretty much every other sport, you generally play every other team in your conference at least once. In the Pac 10 and Big East, every team plays every other, thus no championship game is necessary.

IMO, the Big 10 is the aberration at the moment - they should either take a 12th team and go to a championship game format, or ditch a team and do a full round-robin. They are now the only conference where, some years, the champion can arise because two teams ducked each other (Iowa and Ohio State in 2002, for example). The Pac 10 used to be like that as well, but that has since been resolved with the addition of the 12th game.

58
by BB (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 1:51pm

Travis -- true on the auto-BCS bid I think (I assume the Big 10 still uses the same rule they used to use to break ties for the Rose Bowl berth?), but both teams would have been "conference champions" so the issue of having a non-champ in the championship game wouldn't be an issue.

59
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 1:55pm

Yeah, much to my annoyance, Ohio State did win the Big Ten in 2005. They didn't get the conference's autoberth (not that it mattered, since they got an at-large), but they were co-conference champions.

60
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 3:16pm

That was the case in 2002 as well, where USC and Washington State were co-champions of the Pac-10. However, since Washington State won the head-to-head matchup, they played in the Rose Bowl (against Oklahoma) while the Rose Bowl was played in the Orange Bowl (USC vs. Iowa, co-champs vs. co-champs).

With the new full round-robin, while there's still the possibility of two (or more) teams with the same conference record, but I believe the conference has decided to eliminate the "co-champion" designation, and use a set of tiebreakers to name a single champion.

61
by low4 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 5:16pm

re. 60.

And the Rose Bowl is still upset about that. I, and a few other Iowa fans I know, had already purchased plane tickets to SoCal. Stupid BCS.

62
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 7:16pm

Expected, but sad, news for all FO college football fans: John L. Smith will not return as Michigan State's coach for the 2007 season.

63
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 10:44pm

Does John L. have a chance of hooking on anywhere else at some point? He certainly had an impressive resume before crashing at MSU.

64
by Vinny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:54am

I could see JLS landing out west again, where he coached at Utah State and Idaho before his Louisville gig. Maybe not this year, but he'll have some opportunities with his overall track record (132-83). Just gives him time to climb K-2 or another big peak. He's not a big ego guy who would demand another top job, but then he's also not the kind of guy who needs to coach just to live and breathe (read: Dennis Erickson).