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» OFI: SEC Surprises

In an opening week where even the elite teams in college football looked mortal, the SEC had two big surprises in Texas A&M and Georgia defeating their South Carolinian opponents by big scores.

10 Dec 2008

FEI Week 15 Ratings

by Brian Fremeau

The Fremeau Efficiency Index principles and methodology can be found here. Like DVOA, FEI rewards playing well against good teams, win or lose, and punishes losing to poor teams more harshly than it rewards defeating poor teams. Unlike DVOA, it is drive-based, not play-by-play based, and it is specifically engineered to measure the college game.

FEI is the opponent-adjusted value of Game Efficiency, a measurement of the success rate of a team scoring and preventing opponent scoring throughout the non-garbage-time possessions of a game. Like DVOA, it represents a team's efficiency value over average. Strength of Schedule is calculated from a privileged perspective (explained here) and represents the likelihood that an Elite team (top 5) would post an undefeated record against the given team's opponents to date.

The following ratings are calculated based on data from all FBS games played through Saturday, December 6. Only games between FBS teams are considered.

Rank Team Record FEI Last Week vs. Top 10 vs. Top 40 GE GE Rank SOS SOS Rank
1 Florida 11-1 0.333 1 2-0 5-1 0.436 1 0.215 42
2 Oklahoma 11-1 0.290 3 0-1 5-1 0.372 4 0.214 41
3 Penn State 10-1 0.283 2 0-0 2-1 0.356 5 0.371 67
4 Texas 11-1 0.263 5 1-0 3-1 0.393 2 0.259 48
5 USC 11-1 0.262 4 0-0 5-0 0.392 3 0.401 72
6 North Carolina 7-4 0.251 6 1-1 5-3 0.107 22 0.128 14
7 Georgia Tech 7-3 0.236 7 1-2 5-3 0.098 24 0.106 10
8 Alabama 12-1 0.213 8 0-1 3-1 0.259 9 0.153 21
9 Virginia Tech 8-4 0.211 13 2-1 4-4 0.061 33 0.087 5
10 Florida State 6-4 0.206 10 1-2 4-4 0.049 40 0.050 2
11 Boston College 8-4 0.201 9 2-3 4-4 0.055 37 0.062 4
12 Ohio State 9-2 0.192 11 0-2 1-2 0.170 16 0.209 40
Rank Team Record FEI Last Week vs. Top 10 vs. Top 40
GE GE Rank SOS SOS Rank
13 Pittsburgh 9-3 0.188 14 0-0 5-2 0.090 26 0.234 45
14 Texas Tech 9-1 0.183 12 1-1 2-1 0.234 11 0.235 46
15 Mississippi 7-4 0.174 16 1-1 1-3 0.157 17 0.154 22
16 Clemson 5-5 0.174 15 0-3 4-4 0.031 49 0.113 12
17 Iowa 7-4 0.174 17 1-0 1-2 0.172 15 0.264 49
18 Wake Forest 7-5 0.161 20 1-0 4-4 0.030 50 0.144 19
19 Ball State 11-1 0.150 18 0-0 1-0 0.263 8 0.643 110
20 Cincinnati 10-2 0.142 19 0-1 4-2 0.086 28 0.181 30
21 Rutgers 6-5 0.141 26 0-1 3-4 0.100 23 0.204 36
22 Boise State 11-0 0.141 23 0-0 1-0 0.332 6 0.706 116
23 Utah 11-0 0.134 24 0-0 1-0 0.264 7 0.653 111
24 West Virginia 7-4 0.128 25 0-0 3-3 0.073 29 0.310 57
25 TCU 9-2 0.127 27 0-1 0-2 0.254 10 0.354 66

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and Adjusted Defensive Efficiency are the opponent-adjusted values of Offensive Efficiency and Defensive Efficiency, explained here. Like FEI, the multiple-order adjustments are weighted according to both the strength of the opponent and the relative significance of the result; efficiency against a team's best competition faced is given more relevance weight. AOE and ADE represent a team's value over/under average. Positive AOE and negative ADE are the most valuable.

Rank Team Record AOE AOE Rank ADE ADE Rank OE OE Rank DE DE Rank
1 Florida 11-1 0.516 3 -0.478 3 0.575 10 -0.605 2
2 Oklahoma 11-1 0.619 1 -0.351 14 0.930 3 -0.113 45
3 Penn State 10-1 0.514 4 -0.398 12 0.525 11 -0.507 6
4 Texas 11-1 0.478 5 -0.420 9 0.974 2 -0.250 25
5 USC 11-1 0.401 8 -0.452 6 0.452 13 -0.656 1
6 North Carolina 7-4 0.191 31 -0.503 2 -0.108 67 -0.322 17
7 Georgia Tech 7-3 0.382 11 -0.310 22 0.078 43 -0.184 32
8 Alabama 12-1 0.294 18 -0.317 20 0.119 41 -0.526 5
9 Virginia Tech 8-4 0.104 44 -0.408 10 -0.243 93 -0.277 20
10 Florida State 6-4 0.265 22 -0.321 18 -0.037 56 -0.127 41
11 Boston College 8-4 0.166 33 -0.504 1 -0.170 77 -0.451 9
12 Ohio State 9-2 0.191 30 -0.397 13 0.034 50 -0.438 10
Rank Team Record AOE AOE Rank ADE ADE Rank
OE OE Rank DE DE Rank
13 Pittsburgh 9-3 0.389 10 -0.217 33 0.142 35 -0.101 48
14 Texas Tech 9-1 0.536 2 -0.233 29 1.014 1 0.135 84
15 Mississippi 7-4 0.268 20 -0.297 24 0.154 33 -0.343 14
16 Clemson 5-5 0.116 43 -0.473 4 -0.217 85 -0.385 12
17 Iowa 7-4 0.139 36 -0.447 7 0.051 46 -0.466 7
18 Wake Forest 7-5 -0.076 73 -0.466 5 -0.352 106 -0.259 24
19 Ball State 11-1 0.305 17 -0.247 27 0.693 5 -0.197 29
20 Cincinnati 10-2 0.055 54 -0.340 15 -0.087 64 -0.292 18
21 Rutgers 6-5 0.219 27 -0.192 37 0.176 31 -0.163 37
22 Boise State 11-0 0.127 41 -0.323 17 0.423 14 -0.560 4
23 Utah 11-0 0.086 48 -0.229 32 0.208 29 -0.328 16
24 West Virginia 7-4 0.097 47 -0.305 23 -0.116 69 -0.335 15
25 TCU 9-2 0.030 60 -0.400 11 0.258 24 -0.576 3

The Week 15 FEI Ratings for all 120 FBS teams can be found here. Expanded FEI Ratings data can be found here.

An Imperfect Consensus

Florida and Oklahoma are the top two teams in the BCS, the Associated Press Poll, the USA Today Coaches' Poll, the Harris Interactive Poll, the CBSSports.com BlogPoll, the College Football Ranking Comparison, and, for good measure, the Fremeau Efficiency Index. Before the BCS and under the old bowl structure, the Gators and Sooners would not have had an opportunity to play against one another in a bowl game. Meanwhile, the BCS itself is almost universally derided by folks on both sides of the college football playoff argument. The playoff proponents cannot fathom why college football does not function like every other professional and amateur sports league known to the Western world. And bowl purists blame the BCS for weakening if not ruining the traditions of New Year's Day.

Do we have a consensus at the top? Consider that the Texas Longhorns hold one of the top two spots on almost as many Associated Press final ballots as the Sooners. Texas has a top-two ranking in three of the six computer systems used by the BCS, whereas Florida is rated as a top-two team by only one of the BCS computers. Oklahoma arguably had the best win of the season in its blowout win over Texas Tech. Florida lost by the narrowest score margin to Mississippi. Texas lost its only game on the road at the last second, and won a head-to-head matchup on a neutral field with Oklahoma. Penn State, USC, Alabama, and Texas Tech all have compelling arguments as well, each having lost only once while navigating varying degrees of challenging BCS conference slates.

In other words, we can agree that the best two teams are playing for the championship and we can agree that the system that produced this game is flawed. We are college football and we are complicated.

One of the great obstacles in resolving the annual college football debate over "Who is No. 1?" is the insistence on determining an answer to the question with absolute certainty. Whether by tallying votes in an opinion poll or processing data through a complex algorithm, ranking systems (including FEI) assign a linear ranking number to each team upon publishing the final output, No. 1 through whatever. The ranking number is obviously more user-friendly and intuitive, even if the ratings themselves (or vote totals and arrays in the case of polls) more accurately describe the relative merits of the teams within that system. Then again, can you imagine a championship game touted not as No. 1 versus No. 2, but rather as No. 0.9757 versus No. 0.9479?

Though it is largely overlooked by everyone other than the team or teams left out of the BCS by mere decimal points, ranking versus rating is an important distinction. The distribution of team power across college football isn't linear, but ranking systems classify teams as though it were. The voted polls have shown some flexibility in recent years, but mostly voters still anchor teams to certain poll positions until a loss forfeits a given team's place in line. The sequence of games played and the timeliness of losses impact the final pecking order as much as any other factor. Florida and Oklahoma have been playing some of their best football of the season down the stretch and they also lost less recently than most of the other contenders. Shake up the order of the Big 12 South triple-header this season and Texas might very well have come out on top in the eyes of writers and coaches.

Ranking numbers are authoritative and rating numbers are descriptive. The team with the No. 1 ranking is the best team. The team with the 0.333 rating played like the best team more often (or more consistently, or more dynamically, or against the best opponents, etc...) than anyone else.

This distinction is why I am not content with simply presenting the final pre-bowl Week 15 FEI Ratings as a validation of the BCS selection of Oklahoma and Florida for the championship. I'd rather try to illustrate the complexity of arriving at that conclusion.

The arguments over team resumes boil down to the following: Who did you play, and how did you play against them? FEI answers the first question and Game Efficiency answers the second. Figure 1 charts the Game Efficiency recorded by every team in 2008 (y-axis) against the power (FEI) of the opponent faced in that game (x-axis). A third variable, the size of the bubble, is plotted according to the consistency of the team's performance -- the smaller the bubble, the less representative the result was relative to the team's other performances. All 1,366 performances of 120 FBS teams in 683 games to date form "The Cloud."


If it helps, you can picture me gesturing wildly in front of a green screen as I attempt to talk you through this storm. The very best performances against the very best teams appear in the upper-right portion of your screen. Moving to the left are performances against weaker competition. Towards the bottom of the cloud are weaker game efficiency performances. We would expect the best teams to populate the upper right perimeter of the cloud, and the seven one-loss contenders are right there in the vicinity. USC's dominant victories over terrible Washington and Washington State, and Oklahoma's beatdown of Washington, stand out in the upper-left end of the spectrum. Texas Tech's obliteration at the hands of Oklahoma is buried in the lower-right. Nearly every other performance falls somewhere in between.

Now, doesn't this clear things up? The difference between Florida's season and Texas Tech's season is somewhat apparent, but for the most part, the elite teams in college football didn't exactly distance themselves from each other or even the rest of the pack. But should we really expect anything more of our top teams? The No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country don't perform a certain way against a certain level of competition week in and week out. Instead, they perform more consistently like the best team than others do, they never perform terribly, they appropriately stomp on weak opposition, and they are at least sometimes very successful against good and very good opponents.

The FEI ratings are a kind of one-dimensional representation and synthesization of the three-dimensional cloud. Florida and Oklahoma measure up to the expectations we have of a No. 1 versus No. 2 match-up, and the game has the potential to be an outstanding clash of the titans. Since 2003, FEI top-10 teams have met only 48 times, FEI top-5 teams have met only ten times, and No. 1 and No. 2 have met only once. If Florida and Oklahoma can deliver some of the magic of the 2005 Texas/USC finale, we'll have an extraordinary champion, albeit an imperfect one.

An Imperfect Solution

I am neither pro-BCS nor anti-BCS, and I do not have a playoff system proposal to share. I don't dispute the financial windfall that a college football playoff would garner. I have just illustrated the challenge of distinguishing two and only two teams to play for a national championship, and I don't dispute that a great way to help sort out similar team profiles would be to actually have the teams play against one another. I don't dispute that a national college football playoff of four, eight, or 16 teams would be one of the most entertaining and engrossing series of events in all of sports.

I do dispute, however, that a single playoff solution, any playoff solution, is necessarily better for college football. The best solution for one season is rarely the best solution for another season. An eight-team playoff with six automatic bids would leave two at-large spots this season for Alabama, Texas, Texas Tech, Utah and Boise State to fill. A "Best Eight" playoff might be a great fit for 2008, but would have left out Hawaii in 2007 -- the only undefeated team heading into the bowls -- and several major conference champions every year. If the conferences would agree to it, maybe that's a price worth paying, but I'm still not sure such a system would be best for college football on the whole.

Consider that one-loss Texas Tech would make the 2008 "Best Eight Playoff" field and two-loss Ohio State would be on the outside looking in. Then consider that Ohio State played USC out of conference and lost, and Texas Tech won each of its non-conference games against Eastern Washington, Nevada, Massachusetts, and SMU. Might Ohio State (and other BCS contenders) reconsider scheduling even one strong out-of-conference opponent in the future in order to more easily qualify for such a playoff? When anti-playoff folks fear for the preservation of the regular season, they aren't necessarily talking about protecting the importance of the Red River Rivalry.

College football's intersectional games are worth protecting. I'll go a step further. The number of college football's intersectional regular season games needs to grow, and the energy spent barking about playoffs and inventing postseason solutions would be better spent first on creating more top matchups in college football's regular season. Let's fight for Texas Tech and Georgia Tech to skip one of their two FCS games in 2008 and play each other instead. Let's insist that the top conferences meet some minimum scheduling expectations with other conferences. Let's reward that type of change with lucrative TV dollars and a playoff-like atmosphere, but let's do it in September first before we worry about fixing the championship in January.

We are college football and we are imperfect. But that doesn't mean we can't do better, and it certainly doesn't mean we can't improve on the greatest regular season in sports.

Perfection On the Line

Two teams remain perfect in 2008, and they have been scarcely mentioned by me all season long. Mountain West Conference champion Utah is headed to its second BCS bowl game appearance in five years and Boise State completed its undefeated regular season and claimed the WAC championship. Neither team is considered by FEI to be on par with the elite teams, however. What gives? Does FEI have some kind of mid-major bias?

Not exactly. FO readers might recall that FEI correctly forecasted Boise State to defeat Oklahoma in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. And four non-BCS teams currently appear in the FEI top 25, more than any other year in the FEI era. The following table lists every season-ending FEI top-25 finish for non-BCS conference teams since 2003.


FEI Top 25 Non-BCS Conference Teams 2003-2008
Year Team Year Rank Record FEI
2004 Utah 5 12-0 0.243
2006 BYU 12 11-2 0.206
2006 Boise State 16 12-0 0.198
2007 BYU 14 10-2 0.177
2003 Miami(OH) 12 13-1 0.176
2005 TCU 20 11-1 0.167
2003 Utah 15 10-2 0.162
2004 Boise State 21 11-1 0.155
2008 Ball State 19 11-1 0.150
2008 Boise State 22 11-0 0.141
2008 Utah 23 11-0 0.134
2004 Fresno State 25 8-3 0.128
2008 TCU 25 9-2 0.127

Note the absence of the 2007 Hawaii Warriors from this list, a team rated No. 53 by FEI and totally overmatched in last year's Sugar Bowl. Utah will face SEC runner-up Alabama in the Sugar Bowl this season, and does figure to be more competitive. But not only are the Utes rated as the third-best non-BCS conference team in 2008, they are only the third-best Utah team on this list since 2003.

The Urban Meyer-led 2004 Utah team broke through to a BCS game victory and are the only "mid-major" to complete a season ranked among the FEI elite. What was their secret? They thoroughly dominated their schedule, recording a season Game Efficiency average of 0.398 (only Meyer's Florida Gators have a better GE in 2008). Their narrowest non-garbage margin of victory was 17 points, and they outscored their opponents in non-garbage possessions by 335 points, nearly 28 per game.

This isn't to suggest that Utah hasn't had a successful season in 2008, but they do not have the profile of an elite team. If plotted in The Cloud, the narrow escapes over Michigan and New Mexico would appear more lower-left than any of the performances of the seven one-loss teams, and Utah never notched a victory in the upper-right region. Against their best opponents, TCU and Oregon State, the Utes won each game by three points at home. Alabama will be a formidably greater, though not impossible, challenge.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 10 Dec 2008

35 comments, Last at 12 Dec 2008, 6:29pm by Pat (filler)

Comments

1
by RickD :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 2:43pm

Could we stop calling Dallas a "neutral field" without some kind of qualification? It is, after all, in Texas. I know it's not on the UT campus at Austin, but when people say "Texas beat Oklahoma on a neutral field", the implication is that the game was not played in the home state of one of the two teams.

3
by JOliver (not verified) :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 3:18pm

No, the implication is that it's not in either team's home city. Dallas is more or less equidistant between Norman and Austin (as well as being the location of the Cotton Bowl). Tickets are split evenly between schools, and each team's fans occupy one half the stadium. You won't find a more neutral-field contest in FBS competition. Maybe one that is equally neutral, but not more so.

12
by SplashDaddy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 5:57pm

No we won't because it is a neutral field. Dallas is approximately equi-distant between Austin and Norman. Half the tickets go to UT, half go to OU. Also, The typical OU team is made up of 3/4's Texas recruits and north Texas is clearly fertile recruiting ground for OU - always has been and always will be. The only games Texas plays in the Cotton bowl are the Red River Shootout and if they happen to go to the Cotton Bowl, so Texas holds no home field advantage there. I would venture that there are more OU alumni in DFW than there are in Norman, maybe even all of Ok. You must understand that Texas is a very big state in both area and population.

It's a great rivalry, a great tradition, and it's played on a neutral field.

2
by Dave Crockett (not verified) :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 2:58pm

Summed up my feelings on a college football playoff precisely.

4
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 4:15pm

Let's insist that the top conferences meet some minimum scheduling expectations with other conferences.

The frustrating thing is that you could get a lot of change just by asking teams to coordinate their scheduling better. Having multiple teams play the same out-of-conference team in one year is just crazy. Just shuffle things around a bit, and it'd be much better. There also seem to be conferences that avoid each other like the plague - the Big Ten and the SEC, for instance, who play on average 1 game every 3 years outside of bowls, even though several of their teams are within spitting distance of each other.

(Curiously, the Big Ten and the SEC are the two teams that've met in awful championship games twice now. Hmm.)

6
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 4:29pm

Blame Indiana and Kentucky for that one. They played every year from '87 through '05, then stopped. We thought they had it covered.

Honestly, you wouldn't get much change at all by asking. There really aren't many coaches out there willing to add a solid non-conference opponent to their schedule, not with job security being what it is, and if you aren't talking about an IU-UK game, then at least one of the schools involved would be doing exactly that.

If anything, you'll just see more games against I-AA and supposedly weak non-BCS teams. If the primary focus remains total wins, most coaches and ADs will set their schedules to maximize total wins.

16
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 9:34pm

Well, it's not just Indiana and Kentucky. Ohio State's just as close to Kentucky, and it's not like Tennessee's that far either.

Honestly, you wouldn't get much change at all by asking. There really aren't many coaches out there willing to add a solid non-conference opponent to their schedule, not with job security being what it is, and if you aren't talking about an IU-UK game, then at least one of the schools involved would be doing exactly that.

You don't need games against strong opponents. Indiana-Kentucky would be fine. So would Penn State-Vanderbilt, or Iowa-Arkansas or something. Why? Because it gives you a direct reference basis. The idea that USC is way better than Penn State, which you hear everywhere, is insane. We know this, pretty well - PSU/USC have two common opponents, and in both cases, and the performance was "close/blowout" and "blowout/loss".

You have points of reference. Texas-Arkansas helps show that putting the Big 12 elite at the same level as Alabama/Florida isn't crazy. Missouri-Illinois shows that Ohio State is probably a bit lower than the elite in the Big 12, because Oklahoma/Texas beat Missouri by 20+ points each, Missouri is a fair amount better than Illinois, and Ohio State beat Illinois only by 10.

An easy requirement would be "to maintain an automatic BCS berth, each conference must maintain at least 1 game against a BCS conference team each year per team on average, and 1 game every year over a 5 year average with each of the BCS conferences, with no more than 4 games against any one BCS conference and no more than 8 games against any non-BCS conference in any one year." With between 30-40 out of conference games and 6 BCS conferences, that's not a big requirement at all.

I also don't agree about the whole "strong opponent" thing. The reason teams don't schedule big opponents is because it's hard to do, economically. I doubt it has much to do with the opponent's strength.

22
by Love is like a bottle of gin (not verified) :: Thu, 12/11/2008 - 1:42am

Well said.

30
by Will :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 2:43pm

Well, it's not just Indiana and Kentucky. Ohio State's just as close to Kentucky, and it's not like Tennessee's that far either.

Ohio State has Tennessee scheduled for a home and home in 2018 and 2019. Their top OOC games for the next few years are:

2009 - USC
2010 - Miami
2011 - @Miami
2012 - Cal
2013 - @Cal
2014 - Virginia Tech
2015 - @VT
2016 - @Oklahoma
2017 - Oklahoma
2018 - @Tennessee
2019 - Tennessee

Will

32
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 2:52pm

Ohio State has Tennessee scheduled for a home and home in 2018 and 2019

There was a bit of a hint there that scheduling a game vs Kentucky/Tennessee (who are ridiculously close) more than once every 10 years might be preferable.

34
by Will :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 5:03pm

Understood, but at the same time you only get a handful of OOC games - scheduling more than one "in demand" school is tricky, I'm sure. I don't know about you guys, but I'd much rather watch Ohio State against Miami, Oklahoma, USC, etc. than against Kentucky.

Will

35
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 6:29pm

I'm sure. I don't know about you guys, but I'd much rather watch Ohio State against Miami, Oklahoma, USC, etc. than against Kentucky.

You're not substituting Kentucky for a major program - you're substituting it for a minor program. Teams infrequently play multiple BCS opponents: Penn State did this year with Oregon State and Syracuse, and Ohio State did in 2006 with Cincinnati and Texas. This is basically asking Ohio State to play Kentucky rather than Cincinnati.

5
by Ryan D (not verified) :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 4:19pm

How about a 12-team NFL-style playoff?

The 6 BCS conference champs get put in as seeds 1-6, with the top 6 remaining teams taken directly from the final BCS standings getting seeded 7-12. Teams 1-4 get a first round bye.

How this would play out this season:

1. Oklahoma (Big 12 champ)
2. Florida (SEC champ)
3. USC (PAC-10 champ)
4. Penn State (Big 10 champ)
5. Cincinatti (Big East champ)
6. Virginia Tech (ACC champ)
7. Texas (#3 BCS)
8. Alabama (#4 BCS)
9. Utah (#6 BCS)
10. Texas Tech (#7 BCS)
11. Boise State (#9 BCS)
12. Ohio State (#10 BCS)

Essentially, we've only added Boise State and Texas Tech to the 10 current BCS Bowl teams.

The first round matchups would be:
12 vs 5: Ohio State vs Cincinatti
11 vs 6: Boise State vs Virginia Tech
10 vs 7: Texas Tech vs Texas
9 vs 8: Utah vs Alabama

Round 2:
Utah/Alabama vs #1 Oklahoma
Texas Tech/Texas vs #2 Florida
Boise State/Virginia Tech vs #3 USC
Ohio State/Cincinatti vs #4 Penn State

Round 3:
8/9 vs 1 winner vs 5/12 vs 4 winner
7/10 vs 2 winner vs 6/11 vs 3 winner

BCS Title Game:
Round 3 winners

8
by bowman :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 4:53pm

Just invite the coach and AD of each of the teams listed to a ladder match/royal rumble, and hang the BCS invites from the ceiling. Send from lowest to highest, the ADs then the coaches, into the ring.

Now that's a pay-per view I can watch!

7
by Dave51 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 4:49pm

Get rid of "automatic bids", it's a retarded system. Do #12 and #19 really deserve to be playing in the 4th BCS bowl? No way in hell. I don't see why they don't just assign bowl match ups based on BCS rank (1 vs 2, 3 vs 4, 5 vs 6, etc) and then do a revenue sharing thing for all the NCAA conferences. I guess that would just make too much sense?

11
by Dennis :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 5:30pm

Because the BCS conferences don't want to share the money with the non-BCS conferences. I've been saying since the BCS started, if you're not going to treat the other conferences equally, then kick them out of the FBS and end the hypocrosy.

15
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 9:13pm

I've been saying since the BCS started, if you're not going to treat the other conferences equally,

Hint: what power does the BCS have to kick teams out of the FBS? Absolutely none. What connection does the BCS have to the NCAA? Absolutely none.

The reason that the BCS Coalition can ignore the non-BCS conferences is because people don't care about the vast majority of those teams. They don't watch them, and therefore the conferences have no bargaining power.

In fact, it's kindof funny: the major conferences (plus Notre Dame) got together, formed a coalition, negotiated with major bowls plus the networks, and created the system we have now. Allowing non-BCS teams in at all was a total and complete gift.

If I had to guess, fewer people would probably be complaining if they had just excluded all of the non-BCS teams entirely, and said all of the teams had to come from BCS conferences.

then kick them out of the FBS and end the hypocrosy.

The NCAA (which is the only organization capable of kicking a team out of the FBS) is not being hypocritical at all! The NCAA doesn't recognize a champion for the FBS Subdivision, so it ignores all the teams equally.

9
by Mike Y :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 5:05pm

I'll post my playoff proposal again, I posted this a few days ago in the CFJ thread. I think this works perfectly, as it is fair to all teams. Want to play in a playoff? Then win your conference. Do you want one of the 5 at-large bids? Then make sure your strength of schedule and your record will allow you to be one of the five selected at-large teams. Also, any arguments about playing games during finals, or playing too many games are silly. Just about every school allows athletes to take their finals slightly earlier or slightly later to accommodate for a sporting event. And if D-II schools can handle 15 games and the "school" concern, then so can D-I. Plus, under this proposal, only 8 teams would be playing more games than they are under the current system. The only argument with any merit is the "tradition" argument, but, frankly, this "tradition" of top schools never playing anyone just sucks. I want to see multiple top schools play each other every year, not just a once-in-a-year event. More football and less pointless arguing, and we can actually argue the merits of Team X vs. Team Y before, during, and after the game, instead of it being discussed as a "what-if?" scenario.

I propose a 16 team playoff, with each of the 11 conference champions getting bids, along with 5 at-large teams selected by an NCAAB-style committee. I will pick Alabama, Texas Tech, Texas, Ohio State, and TCU as the at large teams. Here are the matchups, higher seed gets the home game in the first two rounds, and the "Final Four" will be played at a neutral site:

Saturday, December 20

#16 Troy at #1 Oklahoma
#9 Boise St. at #8 Penn St.
#13 Virginia Tech at #4 USC
#12 Cincinnati at #5 Alabama
#14 Tulsa at #3 Texas
#11 TCU at #6 Utah
#10 Ohio St. at #7 Texas Tech
#15 Buffalo at #2 Florida

Saturday, December 27 (assuming higher seeds win)

#8 Penn St. at #1 Oklahoma
#5 Alabama at #4 USC
#6 Utah at #3 Texas
#7 Texas Tech at #2 Florida

Monday, January 5 at Miami, Fla.

#4 USC vs. #1 Oklahoma
#2 Florida vs. #3 Texas

Monday, January 12 at Miami, Fla.

#1 Oklahoma vs. #2 Florida

Of course, the games won't be played out like that, and there will be upsets, making it that much more exciting. Instead we get the BCS.

Also, we could keep all the bowls, we could still have a Michigan State vs. Oregon Rose Bowl on New Years Day, and an Oklahoma State vs. Georgia Cotton Bowl, and a Minnesota vs. Central Michigan Motor City Bowl.

All of this is workable, and yet some people still seem to be against a playoff.

17
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 9:37pm

All of this is workable, and yet some people still seem to be against a playoff.

I'm going to guess that those people are the ones who correctly point out that having Troy in a playoff instead of, say, Georgia or Pittsburgh is beyond crazy.

21
by Love is like a bottle of gin (not verified) :: Thu, 12/11/2008 - 1:40am

I dont see any problem with Troy...

what makes Georgia and Pitt so special?

31
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 2:50pm

what makes Georgia and Pitt so special?

The fact that they've beaten a single team with a winning record? And didn't lose to a 4-8 team?

10
by Dennis :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 5:28pm

"College football's intersectional games are worth protecting. I'll go a step further. The number of college football's intersectional regular season games needs to grow, and the energy spent barking about playoffs and inventing postseason solutions would be better spent first on creating more top matchups in college football's regular season."

A playoff system would only help with increasing teh number of intersectional games. With the current system, teams don't want to risk a loss because two losses eliminates you completely from the BCS championship game. Very few teams go undefeated in their conference these days (I don't think any BCS team did it this year), so it's extremely difficult to come back from a non-conference loss and make the championship game.

Under a playoff, teams would be more willing to play tough non-conference games because they would know they can make the playoffs if they win their conference.

13
by Unverified Telamon (not verified) :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 6:32pm

Excellent graph. I'd love to see something similar for DVOA and the NFL teams. However, I'm unclear about what the size of the dots represent.

18
by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 10:38pm

I could have explained it better in the article, but the size of each bubble is basically meant to illustrate whether that team's performance was typical (large bubble) or atypical (small bubble).

Mathematically, each bubble is inversely proportional to the squared difference of the data point from the mean for each team, using Calibrated Adjusted Game Efficiency data (peformance adjusted for strength of opponent). The average of those squared differences is the team's performance variance.

If a team had zero variance in performance, each of its bubbles would be of equal size. They also would fall along a strong trendline. Florida has a larger and less scattered set of bubbles than Texas Tech. Florida's variance in game performance over the season is smaller than Texas Tech's. In other words, Florida was more consistent.

14
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 8:44pm

Comparison of the projections to the actual ratings. Projected top 10 (actual):
1. Ohio State (12)
2. USC (5)
3. Georgia (26)
4. Florida (1)
5. LSU (56)
6. Auburn (59)
7. Oklahoma (2)
8. West Virginia (24)
9. Clemson (16)
10. Wisconsin (45)

Current top 10 teams not in the preseason top 10 (preseason rank):
3. Penn State (21)
4. Texas (16)
6. North Carolina (53)
7. Georgia Tech (47)
8. Alabama (25)
9. Virginia Tech (14)
10. Florida State (20)
Just for grins...
19. Ball State (91)
23. Utah (30)
25. TCU (36)
57. BYU (19)
118. Washington State (51)

19
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Wed, 12/10/2008 - 11:32pm

I used to be in favor of a playoff system, now I'm more playoff agnostic.

For all the fairness or unfairness of the BCS, it makes the entire season a pretty intense playoff. If you drop more than once, you won't make a national championship. Every week has top teams that can leapfrog and be in the national title picture.

I also firmly believe that in a playoff, teams would schedule nothing but cupcakes out of conference - What benefit do you have from playing a good team? If you win, it doesn't help you win your division. If you lose, it doesn't hurt you. Why waste the time, money, effort, injury risk, when you can just throw another cupcake in there and blast them? In the current BCS, teams have an incentive to put good schools in their schedule because if they win, it can put them in the driver seat for a major bowl.

Lastly, it also comes down to what a playoff is desired for - Is it to determine whose the best team in college football? Having a playoff creates an avenue for Cinderella teams that the BCS currently doesn't have, but it also can keep two top schools from playing each other because of an injury or someone just coming out flat.

24
by Dennis :: Thu, 12/11/2008 - 2:40am

I disagree about the scheduling effects a playoff would have. In the current system, there is a tremendous risk to playing a good non-conference opponent. Lose, and you have to win the rest of your games to have a shot at a spot in the championship. With a playoff, there is no risk as you say, and not much of an immediate reward. The long-term reward is if you win, you can gain significant recruiting PR. By merely playing the game, you can sway recruits with the opportunity to play major nationally televised prime time games. Sure, just about every game is televised somewhere these days. But if you're a recruit, would you rather have the chance to play on Saturday night on ABC, or Saturday morning on Raycom?

As for the goal of a playoff, IMO it is to determine a champion. It is not to determine the best team, because the better team doesn't win every game.

20
by Love is like a bottle of gin (not verified) :: Thu, 12/11/2008 - 1:37am

The graph actually brings to light some interesting possibilities. Surely the slope of each teams performance versus the strength of opponent is not the same, so some teams do relatively better vs weaker opposition and some do relatively better versus stronger opposition.

For instance perhaps USC vs Oklahoma where it looks like USC is better against weaker teams but trails off as the opposition gets more difficult. Now of course with so few data points there are huge sample size issues, but I have not seen this phenomenon talked about too much and I find it intriguing. In effect the team with the best resume (or who played the best all year) might not be the team who would play well in a championship game.

I wonder if this was true of the two disappointing Ohio State teams?

23
by Josh :: Thu, 12/11/2008 - 2:25am

A 16-team playoff is too big, and it makes the regular season all but pointless.

Here's a better idea (stolen from Pete Fiutak at CFN):

8-team playoff: 6 BCS conf champs, 1 non-BCS conf champ, 1 at-large. Seed the teams according to the BCS and play ball.

25
by bowman :: Thu, 12/11/2008 - 9:48am

Does this system include conference champion games (which I would eliminate as it wouldn't be to the benifit to a conference)? If so, you feel justified including Texas and excluding Florida / TT?

Why not a 4 team playoff, using the conference champs from the 4 highest rated conferences using a variety of computer polls. It would encourage the conferences to schedule stronger opponents, and the conference championship would still matter.

26
by Pete (not verified) :: Thu, 12/11/2008 - 12:54pm

I would like to see the BCS Championship teams be determined AFTER the Bowl Games. Ideally, that means moving the big bowl games back to January 1st and voting on the 2nd. This system ("Classic Bowl + 1") could be instituted under the current system and I believe it could be put into place this next year. No playoff can be considered before 2015 due to existing contracts. This would give guaranteed quality opponents from outside the division. If Utah beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl then they might just have a chance to win #1. More likely, however, is that we would see Oklahoma against USC.

The computer rankings are those used by the BCS. If you want to look at the Sagaring Rankings or Predictor, click on my link. I believe those are a better indicator of strength (and would be used by Sagarin if given his choice).

27
by Pete (not verified) :: Thu, 12/11/2008 - 12:55pm

I would like to see the BCS Championship teams be determined AFTER the Bowl Games. Ideally, that means moving the big bowl games back to January 1st and voting on the 2nd. This system ("Classic Bowl + 1") could be instituted under the current system and I believe it could be put into place this next year. No playoff can be considered before 2015 due to existing contracts. This would give guaranteed quality opponents from outside the division. If Utah beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl then they might just have a chance to win #1. More likely, however, is that we would see Oklahoma against USC.

The computer rankings are those used by the BCS. If you want to look at the Sagaring Rankings or Predictor, click on my link. I believe those are a better indicator of strength (and would be used by Sagarin if given his choice).

28
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Thu, 12/11/2008 - 8:25pm

The World Wide Leader has a page that simulates a 16-team college playoff. I seeded it using FEI with the result that Penn State upset USC for the National Championship. The most notable result was Boise State upsetting Florida in the first round.

29
by Salvi's Headband (not verified) :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 11:32am

Uhm, holy cow. Is that RUTGERS at #21. That is absolutely amazing, folks. Best turnaround if CFB history?

33
by Solomon (not verified) :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 3:20pm

This is off the subject a bit, but I saw some of the 1974 Ohio State-Michigan game on the Big Ten Network. It shows some "classic" Big 10 games, similar to ESPN Classic. Ohio State won 12-10 when Michigan missed a late field goal, and Archie Griffin had a strong performance (I think; I have not watched the entire game yet). Some observations:
1. The teams kicked off from the 40-yard lines.
2. Michigan wore white pants with stripes. I thought Michigan always wore the canary yellow pants.
3. Ohio State's unis were similar to the 2005 version except w/o names on the jerseys.
4. Keith Jackson handled play-by-play, and the anaylst was ... wait for it ... Joe Paterno! I did not know JoePa ever did broadcasting on the side. Does anyone know if that was a one-shot deal? JoePa did OK in the segment I watched.

I realize this is not FEI-related, but it seemed reasonable to stick this in one of the college football threads.