Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Jun 2012

College Football Playoffs Will Still Provide Plenty to Be Mad About

Today at SB Nation, I took a look at how a four-team playoff, and the selection committee allegedly accompanying it, would have impacted the last 14 years of college football. The short version: we're still annoyed, and Boise State is still screwed. At least, the Boise State of the WAC and Mountain West.

Even with the most flawless, logical, reasoned selection committee of all-time, we are still going to see plenty of cases where Team No. 5 is almost indistinguishable from Team No. 4 (or No. 3), and for those looking for mid-major justice ... good luck. No matter how many times Utah, Boise State or TCU proved themselves when given the opportunity, they still would have been faulted greatly for a schedule that was mostly beyond their control, and aside from TCU in 2010 and probably 2009, they still could have found themselves on the outside of a playoff. (And it goes without saying that 1998 Tulane and 2007 Hawaii would have, too.) For some, that is no problem at all. For others, it will make them wonder why we are wasting our times with a playoff at all.

You should read the long version, too, of course.

Posted by: Bill Connelly on 21 Jun 2012

57 comments, Last at 01 Jul 2012, 3:58am by Subrata Sircar


by Mr Shush :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 5:55am

Four is the wrong number. There are frequently more than 4 teams that could conceivably be the best when the season finishes. There are virtually never more than 8. The goal should be to include at least one undeserving team each year.

by Thok :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 7:50am

It's easier to go from four to eight then from no playoff whatsoever to eight. I suspect we'll see a playoff expansion by 2025.

(I personally favor 16, with all conference champions getting in, but I'm willing to wait until 2040 for that.)

by markus (not verified) :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 1:24pm

100% correct. Expanding the playoff will be far easier than getting it started in the first place. Better to enjoy this major victory and instantly start complaining that it wasn't a big enough victory.

by andrew :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 7:53am

yeah but the #5 team would have had no shot before anyway, so I'm not so worried about it.

Does anyone care in college basketball that the #65 (or #67) teams were deprived of their shot at a national championship?

by DavidL :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 8:36am

Other than the fans of the #67 team, not particularly. But that's a far cry from picking your #1 seeds and sending them straight to the Final Four.

by Ryan D. :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 9:14am

By going with 4 football teams instead of 8 teams, the better NCAA basketball analogy would be saying that we only need the top 32 basketball teams instead of the top 64 in the tournament. How many teams seeded 9th or worse in their bracket have made it further than #1 seeds in the same tournament? It's not that a 10 seed is going to win, but what's wrong with giving them the chance?

I would even be ok with a Top 6 format, matching a current NFL conference playoff. The top 2 get a bye week, while the bottom four square off for the right to face them in the national semifinals. I feel like that 5th and 6th team might not always win, but they would offer a lot more chance to win than the 7th and 8th teams, and I wouldn't be bothered if it took a few more years to get 8 total teams included.

by jsa (not verified) :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 1:23pm

4 team playoff is an improvement, but I think ideal would be 6. Top two seeds get byes, so regular season and conference champiosnhip games still mean a lot. Could require that top two seeds are conference champs if you want, remaining 4 teams can be from any conference. With five games, could fit it into current 4 major bowl + champinship game format, rotate sites, etc.

by tuluse :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 10:54am

The bottom 4-8 teams in the basketball tournament are mostly there to give the 1 and 2 seeds something to do while the teams in the middle get thinned out.

by djanyreason :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 9:15am

This is why whinging for a playoff is dumb. If there's a 4 team playoff, then what about team #5? If there's an 8 team playoff, then what about team #9? And what happens when a 9-3 team sneaks in as #8 and gets lucky 3 games in a row?

Nobody's ever going to be satisfied with any system for college football. Making changes just encourages more whinging.

by Goathead (not verified) :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 11:13am

No, the whining isn't dumb. I'm much more comfortable with a 9-3 team sneaking in and winning than with a 12-0 team not getting a shot and blowing out a big school in their bowl game. My problem in the 2 or 4 team scenarios is that you're telling the Boise's of this world that it didn't matter what they did in the regular season, they never had a shot at #1. But then I might (as a Giants fan) bring a certain bias to the discussion.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 11:22am

If that 9-3 team had to go on the road to beat a 12-0 Alabama or USC team on the Tide's or Trojan's home field, before playing in a semifinal game in the Orange Bowl or Rose Bowl, and then a championsship game in whatever city won the bid to host the last game of the year, then I'm not all that bothered by a 9-3 team getting in and winning.

by markus (not verified) :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 1:28pm

The Boises of the world are shut out completely right now. Their chances only get better even with a 4-team playoff. Plenty of years the BCS arguably failed to get the best two teams in the title game. At least with four teams making the playoffs the odds of the best two being there are much higher.

by Scott C :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 9:06pm

If a 9-3 team gets in and defeats #1, #2, and #4, and the rest lose one or two games, such a team would have the most impressive resume at the end and there would be little controversy.

Worst case, such a team could defeat #1, then #5, then #3. Even that is quite strong, as #3 would have defeated #2 and #6, and #5 would have defeated #4.

If #65 in the NCAA Men's BB tourney wins it all, would there be controversy? A #8 seed has won the tourney before...

On the other side of it, all four #1 seeds have only made it to the final four ONCE. And two #1 seeds in the championship game is rare (6 times).

That tourney doesn't produce controversy, if you lose people simply conclude you don't deserve to be champion. I doubt there will be controversy with a Football bracket as long as it is big enough.

only 1? what about #2?
only 2? what about #3?
only 4? what about #5?
only 8? what about #9?

I think we can agree that "what about #33" in football is not going to be controversial. I think 8 teams is good enough. I think 16 would be too many, but you can probably eliminate conference championship games and replace it with the first round and so it may happen eventually.

by TV_Pete (not verified) :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 9:58am

Personally, I hope that they strongly consider the Sagarin Predictor/Ranking (not the garbage ELO-Chess that is forced into use). Perhaps they could even consider FEI in their selection.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 11:09am

I think it likely that, every three to five years or so, one of the Conference Championship games, featuring two of the best teams in the country, will be turned into the equivalent of an NFL team's third exhibition game, because the outcome will have no effect on who wins a championship. I think a system which regularly turns a feature game between two of the best teams, on the second to the last gameday of the season, into something where the outcome doesn't matter, is an example of really poor planning.

If you had an eight team format, with two or three 2nd place conference finishers eligible, with the first round of the playoffs contested on the home fields of seeds 1 through 4, you'd be pretty well assured that all the conference championship games, featuring two of the best teams, would have something significant at stake. Nick Saban would very much rather have a first playoff game in Tuscaloosa, instead of Los Angeles or Eugene, or, God forbid, Madison or Ann Arbor in a blizzard. Urban Meyer would greatly prefer a first playoff game in Columbus, instead of Baton Rouge or Norman. This would also assure huge gate receipts for four games on, say, the 2nd Saturday of December, and another huge television payday.

Ah, it makes too much sense.

(edit) To be clear, seeds 1-4 would have to be conference champions.

by tuluse :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 2:06pm

I like the cut of your jib.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 2:21pm

Hey, I'd really prefer an eight team tourney comprised of at least seven conference champs, or even all conference champs, because the tradition of college football I like best is the notion that no season can be labeled a huge success if it did not include winning the conference. I also think that such a system would result in a more even distribution of talent across seven or eight conferences, which I think would lessen the frequency of completely noncompetitive regular season games, which is the worst feature of college football.

However, I'm a realist, and understand that the Slives and Delaneys of college football will never agree to that, so an 8 team tourney, with five conference champs guaranteed, four conference champs seeded 1-4 hosting the first round on the 2nd Saturday in December, seems to strike the best possible balance between good football and making the most money.

by Anonymousjk (not verified) :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 10:56pm

The first paragraph of your post is absurdly unrealistic. There's way too much pride in college football and association with the university for boosters to ever allow the teams to lay down and phone it in, especially when that game will often be played with at least some level of rivalry.

It's the difference between liking an organization, and having been part of that organization and carrying it with you.

The second paragraph, no disagreement.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 11:33pm

If you think you were seeing both coaches put all their cards on the table in the first LSU/Alabama game this past season, I think you are sadly mistaken. Yeah, the players aren't as perceptive as they are in the NFL, so you don't see all that much difference in outward enthusiasm, but anybody who was surprised that the two games were dramatically different doesn't understand the dynamics in play.

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Sat, 06/23/2012 - 3:25am

So let me get this straight. You believe that Alabama and LSU sensed that they would both play again for a national championship when they first met on November 5, so they hid part of their gameplans?

This isn't the pros. Alabama wasn't by any stretch a lock to end up in New Orleans in January. Alabama needed A LOT of help for them to be left standing at the end. Stanford needed to lose to Oregon who then needed to lose to USC. Oklahoma State needed to lose to someone.

And the LSU-Bama games weren't that different from one another. Both were defensive struggles resulting in a lot of field goals. The only real difference was the LSU offense had no answer to Bama's defense and Bama threw the ball a little bit more (both reactions to what had happened in the 1st game).

by Will Allen :: Sun, 06/24/2012 - 9:32am

It doesn't take a lot of sensing when the people getting paid to make projections were predicting that it would be the result, absent one of the teams getting blown out.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 06/25/2012 - 3:13pm

It still required Oklahoma State to lose to Iowa State, and for LSU to not gank the SEC Championship -- a game they trailed at halftime, with exactly as many first downs as I had.

by Subrata Sircar :: Sun, 07/01/2012 - 3:53am

"I think it likely that, every three to five years or so, one of the Conference Championship games, featuring two of the best teams in the country, will be turned into the equivalent of an NFL team's third exhibition game, because the outcome will have no effect on who wins a championship."
There's an additional factor not present for the NFL, which is the rivalries. Nobody deeply cares about the Steelers/Ravens exhibition games, because there's never a chance that they'll count. But if, say, Alabama and Auburn were involved, I can nearly guarantee that the effect on the selection committee would not be first on the minds of fandom. (Make it Michigan and Ohio State and I can guarantee it :<)

This is not an argument against an 8-team playoff - far from it; I'd like to see one. (Although if we though the differences between 4 and 5-6 were bad, the differences between 8 and 9-11 are probably marginal at best; that committee would be in for some headaches.) It is an attempt to consider one of the things that makes NCAA football not like the NFL (and for the better, many might say).

by The Voice (not verified) :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 1:38pm

A few thoughts:
1) There is no "right" number for playoff teams - once a playoff is started it will grow until it becomes too large to support any more, which will likely be between 16 and 24 teams.
2) This growth will kill the bowls.
3) The death of small bowls will also be the death of many smaller schools football programs
4) For over 100 years, college football was unique in that the champions of that year was generally the best team for the entire year. Sure, some years there were 2 champions, and some years a team or two had a legitimate gripe about getting slighted, but a team winning the AP/UPI poll could almost always argue that, over the course of the entire year, they were the best team in the nation.

This is now going to change and the best team for the entire year is going to be the champion much less frequently. Due to the unpredictable nature of the playoff system (which is indeed its appeal), the team everyone agrees is probably the best will not win the tournament all the time, and as the playoff becomes larger and larger this will happen more and more regularly. In the end, it will be just like the NFL and almost every other sport, where the "Champion" will not be the team which performed best over the entire year, but simply a team which played well enough to make the playoffs and got hot/got lucky at the right time.

While you can choose a "champion" this way, you have to agree it is a very, very different way than has been done for the entire lifetime of every college football fan alive. More exciting? Maybe. Better for ESPN? Sure. More gambling? Absolutely! But does it give you a better chance that a team which can legitimately claim to have been the best team over the entire year? Not at all. Less likely, in fact.

Once this ball gets rolling, this will be recognized for the truth it is and college football will forevermore be divided into pre-playoff and post-playoff eras (similar to the way we consider the "NFL" to have begun with the first superbowl). Whether you think this change is good or bad, you have to recognize it is real, and that many people who quite enjoyed the uniqueness of the old way don't have to pretend to like it.

by lionsbob :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 1:53pm

This, a million times, this. Killing off something unique to find a "true" champion just annoys me.

by sundown (not verified) :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 4:14pm

I've never bought the theory that playoffs will kill the bowls. There's no reason the majority of bowls couldn't live on as the playoff games, the same way the big bowls are part of the BCS now. And, just as there are a multitude of bowls that exist now outside the BCS, there's no reason there couldn't be bowls outside the playoffs.

The other side story is that while the bowl system is unique and kind of cool, there's an underbelly to it not nearly as pretty. Teams getting invited irregardless of their records just because their fans will fill seats, the guys running the bowls spending money like drunken sailors, boring matchups that don't excite anyone, etc. If that side went away, it'd be no loss.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 4:20pm

I agree. I can't think of a single reason why anyone, who is now inclined to watch the fifth place Big 10 team play the fifth place Big 12 team, would becomne disinclined to do so once there was a 4 or 8 team playoff. ESPN still needs to have inventory between Christmas and New Years, and a college football game between two so-so teams will still be far and away the most cost effective solution.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Sat, 06/23/2012 - 6:23am

Without question if fans were really discerning, most of the bowls would have died long ago. There'll be plenty of decent teams left out of any playoff format and there'll always be hours to fill with programming. If the NAIA basketball tournament can survive, bowl games certainly could.

by tuluse :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 2:05pm

Unfortunately football is too dangerous to play enough games to determine a true best team. A playoff system at least guarantees that a team that doesn't lose is not unfairly eliminated from contention.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 2:09pm

Yeah, it is simply wrong to claim that a season comprised of a dozen games, with many dozens of teams, can give us accurate insight as to what team is the best.

by DavidL :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 9:34pm

Yeah, it actually is - one dozen teams, sure, but many dozens? There's too much data and too few points of comparison. The BCS isn't so ridiculously convoluted because ranking teams that never play each other, and rarely play a common opponent, is simple and intuitive.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 2:05pm

The entire exercise of pretending to empirically identfy the "best team for the entire year", when the year comprises a very small number of games, and the there are many dozens of teams, is intellectually fraudulent, and always has been.

You are correct, of course, that nobody has to pretend to like something that they do not like. It would be also nice, however, if nobody made an empty claim about days of yore.

by lionsbob :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 2:20pm

In the long run, it really doesn't matter to me. College football isn't equal (most sports aren't equal though) and the idea that a playoff will help find a "true" champion is just annoying.

by The Voice (not verified) :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 2:25pm

You exaggerate my claim to ridicule it. The old system did not and could not empirically identify the "best team" but only sought to recognize the best team over the year as best as could possibly be determined: in the eyes and minds of those who followed the game most closely.

The point it NOT they they succeeded every time. The point is that college football, for 100 years, TRIED to consider each and every single game played, which is quite unique in the world of sports. You may think they did a good job, or you may think they did a bad job, but there is no way in this world you can claim that introducing the randomness of a playoff will be a better way of determining the best team over an entire year than considering each and every game played.

A useful analogy I like is the 2000 gold season. Tiger Woods had the best year maybe ever for a professional, winning 9 total tournaments and 3 majors (quite a career for most golfers!) And yet there was 1 playoff style tournament he participated in (WEG Anderson match play) in which he came in 2nd. If, before that tournament, ESPN and gamblers decided that tournament was to determine the best golfer for the entire year, then we'd have to conclude that Darren Clark was a better golfer in 2000 than Tiger Woods. Such is the nature of tournaments - the result is far more random than an entire season, no matter how long or short the season may happen to be. For me, going for a system which tries to consider all games to one which does not is a step back, not forward.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 3:37pm

You exaggerate the degree to which randomness as a factor will be increased, in recognizing the "best" team, as a result of introducing a playoff, compared to what existed for 100 years. Fifth downs, oblong balls bouncing in funny ways, rain or sun, a coach who does not try to run up the score, etc., etc., already introduced an absolutely gigantic amount of randomness in recognizing who had the "best" season comprised of a dozen games or so, before we even consider lack of schedule connectivity. To pretend that recognizing the "best" college football season has ever been little more than a very poorly educated guess is simply in error.

Yes, the attempt to consider each game has been unique. No, unique is not synonymous with "better". The worst feature of college football for 100 years has been the percentage of games which are completely noncompetitive, and the system by which the result of every game is factored in recognizing the "best" season has directly contributed to that frequency. A intelligently constructed playoff
has a chance to lessen that frequency.

Look, I won't tell you how a playoff would be best, if you don't try to tell me that the system that prevailed for a 100 years was best. My stance is to be realistic, in recognizing that the people who run the sport are a bunch of cartelizing, profit maximizing middle aged creeps who ruthlessly exploit the labor of young men by methods which would be plainly recognized as illegal, if our highest court had five intellectually honest members. We don't, so my hope is that the creeps who run the sport pursue what is most important to them, while taking measures which A) Produce the largest number of games in which the loser will know beyond all doubt that they cannot win a championship, while B) still making the winning of a conference extremely important, and coming in at least 2nd mandatory, and C) end all incentives to purposely pursue the scheduling of nonconference games which will not be competitive.

by The Voice (not verified) :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 4:27pm

I do not mind it if you say you prefer to tournament and I do not mind it if you say the old system was not as good. I get tired of the quite obviously wrong claim that a tournament is self-evidently better than the old system, and I only try to point out that introducing a tournament fundamentally changes something which many people have been quite happy for a very long time for no good reason, and the consequenses (which many will call unforseen) are quite predictable and will prove irreversable.

I guess I never considered that college football was broke, and I have never understood why so many have been panting to fix it.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 4:51pm

To the managers who operate a cartel, which ruthlessly exploits the labor of people who are disorganized and unable to avail themselves of the courts for relief, due to the intellectual dishonesty of the courts, doing something to make more money may be a lot of things, but it sure doesn't fall under the heading of "no good reason". The fact that they have taken this long to get here is only proof that cartels are often operated by mediocrities who can't figure out how to stoop down and pick up the extra cash that lies at their feet.

by Dean :: Sun, 06/24/2012 - 8:58am

"The fact that they have taken this long to get here is only proof that cartels are often operated by mediocrities who can't figure out how to stoop down and pick up the extra cash that lies at their feet"

Or, perhaps, they're smarter than you give them credit for and they know that they have a golden goose and they've been trying not to kill it despite the pressure from the media-entertainment complex.

by Will Allen :: Sun, 06/24/2012 - 9:39am

If you mean they are smart enough to grasp that boosting their revenues by 50% or more has the chance to make their unethical behavior even more obvious, you may have a point.

by Dean :: Wed, 06/27/2012 - 8:36am

But will they really boost their revenues at all? Or will they concentrate their revenues into 3 cash-cow games at the expense of 1500 or so games which will mostly see decreased revenue. Will it REALLY be a net win?

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Sat, 06/23/2012 - 6:35am

People were happy with football before the forward pass, too. "It's pretty good now, so we better not change anything" is a pretty weak argument. And if playoffs aren't self evidently better, why are they used in basically every other sport except this? Take any sport that currently has a playoff and try to argue it'd be better off with some other system and you'd be laughed out of the room.

by Blotzphoto :: Sat, 06/23/2012 - 2:08pm

Actually, The English Premier League (soccer) has never had a playoff system. They just crown a champion based on the 38 game schedule. It's not uncommon in many sports outside of the US.

by tuluse :: Sat, 06/23/2012 - 3:43pm

There is the FA Cup and the Champions League.

by dbostedo :: Sat, 06/23/2012 - 9:27pm

The reason that works really well in soccer is because the schedules are completely balanced - 1 home and 1 away game against every team.

Doing that in basketball, baseball, hockey could work; But those sports have decided to some extent to emphasize a system that sets things up for playoffs instead. This is probably because they've found that - in the US at least - there is more money to be made this way.

Football can't work that way, because of the inability to play enough games to have anything like a balanced schedule.

And as another poster pointed out, European soccer HAS recognized that soccer can make money with playoffs of a sort - hence the Champions League. If the EPL knew it could make more money with a playoff system of its own, it probably would go that way. I'd imagine the main reasons they don't are the existence of so many other cups and tournaments (FA Cup, Carling Cup, Champions League, UEFA Europa League, etc.), as well as simple tradition and the PR that goes with it.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 06/25/2012 - 3:16pm

And yet the World Cup is decided by an elimination tournament, and not a series of round-robin friendlies.

Otherwise The Netherlands would be the EURO 2012 champs.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 11:33pm

I don't really think they're trying to find the "best" team. They're trying to find the winning team. The best team will tend to win the most frequently, but the distinction exists.

by CuseFanInSoCal :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 6:42pm

The death of the bottom tier of bowls can only be a good thing for colleges, as the schools involved almost without fail lose money on them due to travel costs (especially when you're bringing cheerleaders and the band as well as the team and coaching staff) to locations that often aren't near major airports, ticket guarantees, bonuses to coaches and ADs for making any bowl no matter how obscure, and minimum hotel stays that cost more than the bowl's nominal payout.

The cost structure of college football right now has I-AA teams that have no shot of being competitive in I-A clamoring to move up because the aditional revenues of being in I-A (even the Sun Belt's TV contract is worth way more than any I-AA conference; major colleges will pay more for a game against a bad I-A team than they will for one against a I-AA team because they can count more than one win for postseason eligibility) more than offset the additional costs (20 more scholarships, travel costs, higher recruiting costs, minimum stadium size) -- even if they're a perpetual doormat in I-A.

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Sat, 06/23/2012 - 3:36am

So the only thing we can judge bowl games by is profit for the universities competing?

If these schools thought profit was the only issue, they could always refuse to go to the games. They choose to go to reward players, coaches, and fans as well as for the marketing and recruiting investment in the school and program. Those tangential business aspects are not cost efficient but if it doesn't bother them why should it bother you.

When did we get to the point that EVERYTHING is judged by whether it is monetarily profitable or not?

by CuseFanInSoCal :: Tue, 06/26/2012 - 12:40am

It's not like there's any great tradition to bottom-tier bowl games; almost all of them didn't exist prior to 1995. When did we get to the point that every 6-6 team needs a postseason participation ribbon?

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Sat, 06/23/2012 - 6:41am

Schools would decline bowl invites if they weren't getting anything out of them. Even the bottom-tier bowls are great for recruiting which is why bowls could coexist quite well with playoffs. Recruits want to know they'll have a chance to be on TV and go someplace cool over the holidays.

by CuseFanInSoCal :: Tue, 06/26/2012 - 12:39am

Coaches and ADs make the decision on whether or not to go to a bowl, and they almost without fail get bonuses for going to a bowl.

They're a money-losing proposition for the schools (without the ticket guarantee and minimum hotel stay scams, that might not be the case, but then the bowl would lose money instead of the schools); only ESPN really makes anything off of the bottom-tier bowls, which is why they run most of the bottom-tier bowls outright.

by Mikey Benny :: Sat, 06/23/2012 - 10:08am

The death of small bowls will also be the death of many smaller schools football programs

Wow, that's unsubstantiated. Most teams lose money going to bowl games.

This growth will kill the bowls.

Good riddance if it brings a playoff system.

Sure, some years there were 2 champions, and some years a team or two had a legitimate gripe about getting slighted

And this is acceptable, how?

by andrew :: Sat, 06/23/2012 - 1:36pm

I don't know, it just wouldn't be college football without the storied tradition of the GoDaddy.com bowl, the Beef O'Brady Bowl or the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. It already feels diminished now that we no longer have the Weedeater Bowl...

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 06/25/2012 - 3:19pm

Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl, please.

by Subrata Sircar :: Sun, 07/01/2012 - 3:58am

"2) This growth will kill the bowls."
This is a good thing, actually. Currently the bowls siphon a ton of money out of the universities for their own profit.

"3) The death of small bowls will also be the death of many smaller schools football programs."
A base canard, sir! It costs small schools a ton of money to go to a bowl game, and it is dubious that any increased notoriety will make that back.

For example, Alabama lost $2M in the championship game:

Rutgets lost 0.75M for their bowl game in 2010:

and the beat goes on.

Killing the smaller bowl games would likely save a bunch of money that the universities could use on new facilities, gold-plated faculty toilets, or, y'know, the students.

by Tim G (not verified) :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 2:10pm

The only part of the "what about team #5??" argument that concerns me at all is the idea of unfairness to undefeated mid-majors. The difference between the BCS system, frustrating, and a four-team playoff, suitable, lies in the resume of the team that just misses the cut. When the #3 team has a legitimate argument to be the #1 or #2 team and doesn't have a chance to win the championship, that seems arbitrary. When the #5 team has an argument to be #3 or #4 and gets likewise denied, that doesn't feel unjust. If you couldn't plausibly be considered one of the best two teams, I'm not offended at your exclusion from the championship game. Understood that way, four seems like the correct number to preserve the college football culture where the regular season really matters. The margin for error is still razor thin, so your goal is still to be one of the teams Bill would have called a lock to make the top four.

by Dan :: Tue, 06/26/2012 - 9:04pm

Instead of adding more playoff rounds, I'd like to see them improve the quality of the regular season games by having good teams in different conferences play each other. Then the regular season would provide more information about which teams are good, and they wouldn't have to lengthen the season or schedule last-minute games.

One way to set it up: every team that finishes in the top 24 one year is scheduled to play 2 regular season games the next year against other top 24 teams, from two different other conferences.

There is enough stability for this to work well at getting top teams to play each other - the vast majority of top 10 teams were in the top 24 the year before. That will give the top teams harder schedules, and provide more information about how good each team is. It will create a more connected schedule, with good teams from different conferences playing each other, so we'll have much more information about how strong each conference is. And it will give the mid-major teams strong opponents in major conferences, so that they'll either prove themselves or get exposed (rather than going undefeated but getting stuck at #6).

Most of teams' schedules could be set well in advance, saving just two blank weeks near the end of the season to fill in these games nearly a year in advance. Teams outside the top 24 could fill in those 2 blank weeks with other games, possibly with other evenly matched teams, e.g. 25-48 vs. other top 48 teams.