Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Mar 2013

Data-Driven Selection Committee

Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated enlisted the help of Bill Connelly, Brian Fremeau, and a few other college football and basketball stat gurus to help frame the conversation about the future college football playoff selection process. Selecting and seeding a four-team playoff may require an entirely different process than the one employed by the NCAA in its committee selection of the annual 68-team basketball tournament field. The panel of stat experts share their perspectives on the data that needs to be part of that process.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 14 Mar 2013

6 comments, Last at 15 Mar 2013, 5:05pm by LionInAZ


by JonFrum :: Thu, 03/14/2013 - 5:54pm

I don't understand how you get credit towards a national championship appearance by beating a team that's literally not in your league. All these Georgia-Georgia State games should be removed from Georgia's record. If Georgia wants to play for the national championship, dump the Little Sisters of the Poor from your schedule. And all the other guilty parties out there.

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 03/14/2013 - 7:18pm

Not only that, but punish teams that schedule 7+ home games in a 12-game schedule, like Alabama does.

The problem is that they all do it.

by CBPodge :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 5:26am

Every team plays seven home games? But that means that each team must have two home games against no one. Actually, given some of the scores in College Football, that might actually be true.

by LionInAZ :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 5:05pm

Obviously, we're talking about the big FBS ptrograms, many of which lard up their schedules with home games against schools from lower divisions. Alabama and LSU both had 8 home games in 2012. Even Notre Dame had 7 home games. (Michigan had 6 home and 6 away, by contrast.) It's just another trick to game a system which rewards schools for running up scores.

by Dan :: Thu, 03/14/2013 - 6:13pm

My recommendation (which I think I've posted about on FO before) is to improve the regular season by scheduling more games between good teams in different conferences.

Every season, there should be two opponents that are decided on at the end of the previous season. Each team that finished in the top 24 will have those 2 games scheduled against 2 out-of-conference opponents who also finished in the top 24, one at home and one on the road (and against opponents in different conferences). That would make the top teams' schedules more challenging and more connected, so that it's a lot easier to compare the good teams in different conferences.

These games would be scheduled nearly a year in advance, which leaves plenty of time for planning (and this could just be two weeks left blank for every team, so the rest of the schedule could be set). They could replace other regular season games, so it wouldn't be necessary to make the season longer. There is enough stability at the top of the rankings so that teams who are in contention for the title were almost always in the top 24 the previous year, so they would pretty much all be a part of this. Good teams in bad conferences, who end up with nearly-perfect records against a weak schedule, would get two games to prove themselves against tough teams in other conferences.

For teams outside the top 24, something similar could be done with teams 25-48, 49-72, etc.

by CBPodge :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 5:53am

I like this idea. I'd especially like it if the games were scheduled all together, towards the end of the season, so you get a real "crunch time" sort of atmosphere as the season reaches a close, rather than sort of thinking "right, well Alabama is 7-0 now, so they will basically be unbeaten".

The only issue I see with it is that it might prejudice good teams who were outside the top 24 last year. Say there's 5 teams in contention for the playoffs, 4 from last year's top 24 and 1 from outside. Say 2 of those 4 teams win both their top 24 games, and the other two win one. Winning one against a good opposition is still going to look better (IMO, objectively) than the fifth team winning two games against non-top-24 teams. If that makes sense.

But otherwise, yeah, it's a good idea. There should be more non-conference games against strong opposition.