Category Archives: BCS/Playoffs

“I’m sorry, Mike. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

One reason I question how seriously the CFP selection committee takes all the trappings surrounding its mission is because I’m not sure the committee itself will take that stuff all too seriously.

Take, for example, the role statistical analysis will play in seeding the semi-final pool.

“The real difference is we are going to pick four teams and it is going to be done by human beings and not by computers,” said Tranghese.

The hope is to avoid some of the controversies that plagued the BCS during its reign over college football, some of which were caused by those pesky computers. For example, the split national titles for LSU and USC in 2003 and an undefeated Auburn team left out of the title picture a year later. And let’s not forget the 2007 LSU squad that won a championship despite suffering two losses during the season.

Blaming the final selections in those controversial years on computers is so much happy horse shit, of course.  (And it’s not like anyone’s quick to give the computers the credit for the years the BCS nailed the final two teams.) Computers are there to calculate the data that humans feed them.  It’s up to the latter to prevent garbage in, garbage out situations.

But anyway, it’s not like they’re locking the computers out of the selection room now.  Quite the contrary, there’s going to be a dizzying amount of data made available to committee members.  The issue is how much understanding of statistical analysis do they have to make useful decisions based on the information they will access.  Or, from the original Geek,

“The custom platform we built for selection committee was to their specifications and has approximately 100 million pieces of data, including those at the season, game, possession and play-by-play level,” SportSource co-founder Scott Prather said. “We put that into different tools that make it easy for the selection committee to compare and contrast teams.”

“We have statistics at every level of granularity,” Prather continued. “Using custom filters each committee member can determine the information important to them.”

Tranghese’s response manages to be both predictable and hilarious at the same time.

“I don’t think this is rocket science,” said Tranghese.

Yeah, there’s no reason to think it can’t work.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Stats Geek!

Alex, I’ll take “College Football Trends Unlikely To Continue” for $200.

Of course, if I’m wrong about it, they can always remedy the situation by expanding the pool to eight teams.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs

If Orson Charles breaking Florida’s national championship trophy with his ass is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Me, I’m gonna miss the ol’ crystal football.

The big question is, how’s that gonna play at Walmart?

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs

They work hard for the money.

Bill Hancock’s disingenuousness aside, we all know why we’re getting playoff expansion.  And I think most people expect we’ll see expansion of that expansion in the not too distant future.  What I’m curious about is whether we’re on the cusp of seeing another fault line exposed, over the matter of player safety.  I don’t mean that in the Bielema sense, either.  I’m talking about asking players to fight through fifteen, sixteen or seventeen games in a year to win a national title.

While head coaches strike me as control freaks (comes with the territory, to some extent), for the most part, none strike me as being willingly ignorant of the toll a college football season takes on a student-athlete physically.  That’s led me to wonder if any of them have thought about what happens when those two issues intersect.  I got some answers last week.

“I would hope that if it expands beyond this, we gotta look at the regular season,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said as SEC media days concluded Thursday. “I think you have to reduce the regular [season]. A lot of people may not agree with that.”

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze agreed with Richt, saying college football would have to cut into the regular season for the well-being of the student-athletes participating. Alabama’s Nick Saban didn’t exactly take a side on the matter, but he did say that if expansion comes, the sport should consider the toll more games would put on players.

“Not having thought much about it, I do think that for college players, with their age, with their responsibility to academics and the things they have to do that we’re pretty much closing in on the limit of how many games they should be playing and how we can still fit them in,” Saban said. “In our league, you’d have to win 15 games to win [the national championship in a playoff]. If you expand the playoff, you’d have to win more than that.”

Under the current format, four teams will compete in the College Football Playoff, meaning there will be two semifinal games before a national championship game. That’s after Power Five conferences like the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 have their conference championship games following the regular season. The Big 12 no longer has a conference championship game.

“I have always been concerned with the length of the season,” Freeze said. “But it’s so financially profitable that I’m not sure that there would be any interest [in shortening the regular season]. If you end up going to a longer playoff, there has to be talk of cutting the season back a game, at least.

“The workload that would be on these young men, I would think you’d have to look at shortening the season some if the playoff is expanding.”

Wow, I had no idea there was a college football topic Nick Saban hadn’t given much thought to, but there you go.

Seriously, the common theme there is awkward.  These coaches may have legitimate concerns about how their kids hold up as a season grows ever longer, but they all report to athletic directors who answer to school presidents who have other concerns they consider more legitimate.  You’ve seen enough goings on over the past ten years, so you tell me – whose concerns are likely to be given greater weight?

The other part of the equation to keep in mind here are that priorities can change over time, if the guys running the show lose track of their calibrations.

While Freeze suggested cutting the regular season by a game, Richt didn’t have a specific number for the regular season. Saban, however, threw out the idea of eliminating conference championship games in order to make room for an expanded playoff and cut down the burden of an extra game between the regular season and the playoffs.

It’s hard to see either of those options being attractive to Mike Slive, who’s trying to build a broadcast network asset while maintaining the value of a crown jewel conference championship game that’s been enormously successful for over two decades.  Also, judging by the current debate over the size of the conference schedule, lopping off a regular season game can’t be something any SEC athletic director wants to consider as an option.

But who’s to say how those things look to those folks a few years down the road?  Before you argue it wouldn’t matter, because no school or conference is voluntarily relinquishing any of that sweet money, don’t forget to factor what a future players union may have to say into the equation.  Life is full of tough choices; it’s just that guys like Slive have been able to dodge most of ‘em over the last decade.  We’ll see how long his luck (or that of his successor) holds up.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

“The playoff wasn’t done for the money, it was done for the fans.”

Bill Hancock is so full of shit.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness

“Our focus is the best,” he said, “not the most deserving.”

In a world where a playoff selection committee member refers to winning a conference championship as a “nuance”, I think it’s pretty clear that the most important criteria for a school’s inclusion in the semi-finals field – besides making sure that your power conference doesn’t get screwed, of course – is the ability to bully your fellow committee members with some choice in the arena messaging.

Allow Barry Alvarez to demonstrate.

“I think a lot of it is your intent to play a strong schedule in your non-conference,” said Wisconsin AD and committee member Barry Alvarez. “… It’s pretty easy for me to take a look at a schedule and see what the intent of the schedule is.”

More?

“Having broken down film, I think I know a little bit about football and what constitutes a good team,” said four-time Rose Bowl coach Alvarez. “… I really look forward to studying other conferences and teams. I know the Big Ten well. I look forward to studying others.”

Oliver Luck gets it.

“I think it makes a lot of sense to ask Barry Alvarez, ‘Hey, you guys played Michigan last week, tell us what you think. Tell us what your coaches said,’” said Luck. “I think it’s an asset to listen to Pat Haden talk about a Pac-12 team.”

I figure by the time the end of the regular season rolls around, a third of the members will be irritated by being patronized, another third will be turned off by the sucking up and the last third will be upset that their wisdom goes unappreciated.  At least that will distract those of us concerned about bias and the appearance of conflicts of interest.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs

The entire history of the Internet has been building towards this moment.

Boy, this should answer all our questions.

https://twitter.com/CFBPlayoff/status/485434380643364865

My first one is, what’s that blue thing in the middle supposed to be?

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Sunday morning buffet

Have some football.

  • Herschel Walker thinks the college football playoff format should be bigger than four teams to accommodate the SEC.
  • I heard a lot of talk from some of the NCAA’s witnesses at O’Bannon that paying players could harm the integration between them and the rest of the student body.  I wonder how they feel about this.
  • The arrests of seven athletes over a three-month span at Missouri led the athletic director to the conclusion that he doesn’t believe the spate of arrests was indicative of a cultural problem.  Isn’t that what they always think?
  • More academic speculation on what the Northwestern unionization effort might lead to.  Nobody knows, really.
  • Statistical comfort for Auburn:  Allowing big passing numbers is no indicator of a team’s success.  Except when it is:  “Four of the top five teams in the country in passing yardage — Florida State, Florida Atlantic, Michigan State and Louisville — held the top four spots in opponents’ passer rating, and they were the only four teams to hold teams under a 100 rating.”
  • If you’re interested in some inside ball, Shakin the Southland, which has been an excellent Clemson blog, has lost two of its major contributors.  Their story is here.
  • Auburn wants to do something about limiting opponents’ explosive plays, although if the problem really goes back to Tuberville’s time, I’m not sure why that really matters now.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, BCS/Playoffs, Crime and Punishment, It's Just Bidness, Look For The Union Label, Stats Geek!, The Blogosphere

The virtue of a small sample size

Mark Bradley believes that the four-team playoff will usher in an era of two-loss teams having a shot at playing for a national title because that’s so 2007.

And it’s true that LSU won the MNC that season with two overtime losses on its résumé, but Bradley conveniently overlooks something.  In the six years since, care to guess how many two-loss teams showed up in the top four of the BCS standings after the regular season ended?  Zippo.  Nada.  In several of those seasons, in fact, there weren’t any two-loss teams in the top six (in 2009, the top four were all undefeated).

There’s a reason 2007 has the reputation it does as the wildest, wackiest college football season in recent memory.  It’s an outlier, not a template.

Now, when the playoff expands to eight schools…

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

Caesar’s wife never served on the playoff selection committee.

Jeff Long posts “SECSECSECSEC!!!” Tweet, then gets into Twitter debate with Team Speed Kills blogger Year2.

Looks like that whole perception thing goes straight over his head.  But at least he’s transparent!

(h/t Eleven Warriors)

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, SEC Football