Category Archives: BCS/Playoffs

A Stewart Mandel teachable moment

Interesting hypothetical from this week’s Mailbag, which riffed off an earlier prediction of his that this year’s predicted playoff field would be comprised of No. 1 Florida State, No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 UCLA and No. 4 Georgia:

Of course I will admit the UGA/Auburn scenario might be a tad far-fetched. While we know it’s entirely possible, if not likely, that two SEC teams will get in, we assume they’d come from the same division. In this case, I’m picking the Dawgs and Tigers to both get in after meeting twice. I have Georgia winning the Nov. 15 meeting in Athens, then Auburn winning the Dec. 7 rematch in Atlanta.

If this were the BCS, Georgia would be done. In the playoff, however, if the committee feels the Dawgs are still one of the best four teams, then so be it. They’d have a strong case, too, having beaten three preseason Top 15 teams in Auburn, Clemson and South Carolina. They probably would have to be undefeated going into the SEC title game, though, and maybe that’s a stretch. But hey, the committee’s going to pick the best four teams; as of today I think FSU, Auburn, UCLA and Georgia are the best four teams.

That’s really the big question we have right now, isn’t it?  What kind of selection committee do we have?  Is Mandel being realistic here?  I have my doubts, even if Auburn and Georgia both finish with only one loss, because that SECCG result is going to be fresh on the minds of a number of people who are going to be prone to spreading the playoff slots around to the power conferences.  Not to mention that if the committee let both in, it could be setting up a potential third meeting between the two in consecutive months.

I’d like him to be right, even if the two schools are from another conference.  I suspect his buddies from Montana would agree.  But none of us are serving on that committee.

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“I’m not going to root for chaos, but it’s going to come.”

Mark Schlabach talks to the guys who got crapped on the most during the BCS era, the computer dudes.  And, yeah, maybe some of what they say comes off tinged with a bit of sour grapes to it.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see whether college football fans accept the decrees from a committee that’s meeting behind closed doors,” Anderson said. “Thirteen is a pretty small number. The BCS relied on 167 poll voters [62 coaches and 105 voters in the Harris Interactive Poll] and six computers. It’s an extremely small group. Who knows what they’re going to come up with. Clearly, the support was there for a four-team playoff. I don’t think the support was there for a selection committee. I think it’s a decision they’ll regret.”

But this doesn’t.

Colley says picking four teams will be more difficult than choosing two.

“One thing people don’t realize is that mathematically it’s harder to separate a No. 5 [team] from a No. 4 than it is a No. 2 from a No. 3,” Colley said. “What’s the difference between the 51st team and the 50th? It’s indifferent. I think there will be more reason to debate the merits of four versus five than there was with two versus three. I think you will see a pretty good debate on four versus five in most years.”

Until they go to an eight-team format, that is.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

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Why we can’t have nice postseasons.

Gary Laney neatly distills why the four-team playoff format is toast, even before the first one has been set.

A season ago, neither Baylor nor Michigan State, champions of the Big 12 and Big Ten, respectively, would have made the tournament, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said.

Instead, both Alabama and Auburn would have made it out of the SEC, along with Florida State and Oregon.

When that happens in the future, it won’t be analogous to other postseason snubs like, say, the NCAA basketball tournament. The first team left out of that tournament is the 38th team in line, aside from the 31 conference champions that qualify automatically.

In this case, the selection committee will always leave out at least one major conference champion, even in years when it doesn’t pick two teams from one conference.  [Emphasis added.]

That is exactly why I’ve bitched about bracket creep for years.  The system they’ve built is unstable.  And it’s not predicated on settling it on the field, or having the best teams.  It’s about sharing the wealth.  Eventually, that’s why they’ve got to expand, because leaving a member of the Big Five out every year isn’t going to set well with the people running the game.

They’ll no doubt use us fans as an excuse, the first time there’s a selection controversy, because that will be convenient.  But the thing is, the move to eight, if it’s done as Laney describes – all major conference champions to get in, plus a few at-large berths – isn’t going to make things any more stable.  Because there will come a year when a major conference team that didn’t win its conference and is excluded from the playoff field is better than some teams that do qualify.  And there’s only one cure for that fever.

It won’t stop until there’s no more money being thrown at it.

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Don’t sleep on the Coaches Poll.

There are times when I think Matt Hayes is America’s dumbest CFB opinion writer.

Today, he manages to equate the Coaches Poll with public opinion as a source that could pressure the selection committee.

Let’s say UCLA has one loss and is third in both the coaches and AP polls but doesn’t win the Pac-12 and doesn’t get selected to play in the CFP. Well, suddenly, we have problem with our grand new system.

Because if 60-plus coaches think UCLA is one of the four best teams, and 60 media members think UCLA is one of the four best teams, how in the world can the 13-member committee release its playoff field without UCLA?

Gee, Matt, it isn’t that hard.

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Saturday morning buffet

It’s time to eat.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery, Recruiting, SEC Football, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Garbage in, garbage out.

One of the complaints about the BCS computer formulas was that the machines weren’t allowed to take margin of victory into account, presumably because the little fellows couldn’t distinguish between legitimate dominance and a team just trying to run the score up to impress the voters.  The problem with doing that was that it skewed the ratings.  Like it or not, margin of victory is an indicator of relative excellence.

So now that we’ve overthrown the tyranny of the machines and allowed humans, with their much greater ability to appreciate deliberate manipulation of scores, does that mean they’ve done away with that silliness for the selection committee?

Get outta here!

  • Principles.  The committee will select the teams using a process that distinguishes among otherwise comparable teams by considering:

    • Conference championships won,

    • Strength of schedule,

    • Head-to-head competition,

    • Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory), and,  [Emphasis added.]

    • Other relevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.

Now, admittedly, this could be bullshit, and likely is.  But that they’ve gone to the trouble to codify it makes it hard to take the results any more seriously than we did with the BCS rankings.

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“The playoff’s not going to change scheduling much.”

Once you get over the amusement of Tommy Tuberville complaining that power conference schools are still scheduling cupcake games – yes, that Tommy Tuberville – you will be shocked, shocked to learn that the advent of the new CFB playoff hasn’t changed things too much on the scheduling front.

Since presidents officially approved the four-team playoff on June 27, 2012, about 73 percent of the games scheduled by the Power 5 conferences (plus Notre Dame and BYU) are outside the power conference structure — games against schools from the American, Mountain West, C-USA, MAC, Sun Belt conferences or FCS.

Combing through scheduling announcements from the last 25 months showed that 45 of the 300-plus games involving those power schools were to play FCS opponents, with another 78 for C-USA (40) or Sun Belt (38) teams.

That total of 123 games comprises about 40 percent of the games found, while dwarfing the 83 or so games scheduled between two power-conference schools.

Big schools scheduled 35 American matchups, 31 apiece with the Mountain West and MAC, and three with Army /Navy.

Why should anyone be surprised by that?  Until a school or a conference gets smacked in the face by a real world consequence to scheduling weak sister games, why would there be any motivation to change what’s worked so well for so long?

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