In Indianapolis, the perfect season hasn’t started yet.

You really didn’t think I’d pass up the opportunity to comment on this, did you?

“Ultimately, what matters the most is what happens in the postseason,” Denver coach Josh McDaniels said. “So, I think their season is going to be determined by what they do once the playoffs start, not what happened yesterday.”

He’s right, of course.  The 10-6 regular season, er, World Champion New York Giants remain living proof of that.

What’s truly awful about Caldwell’s decision to pull his starters from a 15-10 game with more than a quarter of the game to go isn’t short-changing the fans who paid to watch (although that’s pretty bad).  It’s this:

The decision also could have ramifications on the playoff race.

The Jets now have control, thanks to Sunday’s victory, and teams such as Pittsburgh or Houston could end up missing the postseason because the Colts rested key players.

When people like myself express concern about devaluing the regular season, that’s what we’re talking about.  So for those of you who continue to wax indignant about Boise State with its 98th-ranked strength of schedule not getting to play for a national title, you might want to consider how the other side feels.

“Obviously I would have loved to have seen them win that game,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. “But for us it really doesn’t matter. We have to worry about taking care of our business. … They’ve got to do what they think they got to do. But we’ve got to worry about ourselves.”

Gary, rest assured that they’re settling it on the field.

The point here isn’t a simplistic “playoffs are bad” one.  It’s that careful consideration needs to go into the design of a playoff format for D-1 football should that day come.  The cure being worse than the disease, and all that…

48 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

48 responses to “In Indianapolis, the perfect season hasn’t started yet.

  1. keith

    Senator……

    The Jets now have control, thanks to Sunday’s victory, and teams such as Pittsburgh or Houston could end up missing the postseason because the Colts rested key players.

    Really, cause I thought that Pittsburgh or Houston could end up missing the postseason because they didn’t win enough games. Silly me.
    At least Kubiak understands what his job is, to win games in the regular season and not worry about what the other teams do.

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    • No problem, Keith, ’cause I thought that Boise State could end up missing the title game because they didn’t play a tough enough schedule. Silly me.
      At least Mack Brown understands what his job is, to win games in the regular season and not worry about what the other teams do. 😉

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  2. keith

    I for one don’t believe that Boise deserves a shot in the title game, but I would love to see them playing in some sort of playoff a lot more than I would seeing them playing in a meaningless Fiesta Bowl. As a matter of fact, I won’t be watching that game but I would be watching if it were a playoff game. I wouldn’t watch the Orange Bowl except that I want to see Tech get beat. With that being said I will only flip over to it to watch the score. I just watched the only game I cared about last night, other than the BCS title game.

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  3. Puffdawg

    I think you’re missing the point. The post intended to prove (and was successful) the regular season becomes devalued (read: games become less important) with a playoff. Are you saying the Senator is not accurate?

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    • Macallanlover

      The post SUCCESSFULLY made that point? Wrong again. That post made the point that oranges were round and orange, which has nothing to do with the fact apples are round and red. Anyone who sees the NFL’s bloated playoff system with a high percentage of qualifiers as comparable to an 8 team CFB playoff with four home field sposts available is simply desperately seeking partial-truths to confuse the issue. Actually, putting this argument under a spotlight and requiring people to think about it may help blow it up.

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      • an 8 team CFB playoff with four home field sposts available…

        All of which begs the question: how do you know that’s what we’ll get?

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        • Macallanlover

          Clearly I don’t, nor do I think we will see a playoff in the next 10-15 years. What I am convinced about is 8 is the workable number of teams that addresses each of the critics concerns.

          Without four homefields being used for the first round games you cannot put on the 1st round games in a timely manner that would address travel plans, ensure full stadiums, maintain as many bowls as most would prefer, or complete the playoffs without extending the season more than one week for the two teams making it to the championship game.

          Does that mean 8 teams is the only option? No, but any other number of teams would either undermine the credibility of even instituting the playoffs by excluding viable teams, or would legitimize some of the concerns many have expressed.

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  4. keith

    I have stated many times that as long as it stays 16 teams or below, the regular season won’t be devalued. Sixteen teams is, all the conference champions plus 4 at larges. I believe my math is correct. Seeding would be huge as it could mean home games till the final or a pesky road game on possibly the blue field. You wouldn’t be resting starters if you were worried about where you were gonna play.

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    • Puffdawg

      Am I missing something here? Did you read the link? These are the facts: The NFL has playoffs. The NFL uses records to determine seeding. Indy, based upon its record, has clinched homefield advantage BEFORE THE REGULAR SEASON IS OVER. Indy rested it’s starters because of the previous sentence and lost the game as a result.

      Thus, is it not a fair conclusion to draw from those facts that this particular regular season game between Indy and NYJ was devalued because it was not played to its true potential?

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      • DawgPhan

        Save it…the playoff crowd gets to pick and choose which examples you can use when talking about the BCS.

        I guess you didnt read the fine print.

        When they mention that everyone else has a playoff, dont bother mention that most playoffs dont work…that doesnt apply..only that they have a playoff is applicable. basically the existence of playoffs in any format is enough justification for the playoff crowd to start a playoff, it’s ability to add any value to any part of the sport is secondary to the actual existence of the magical playoff…kind of like a unicorn.

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      • Phocion

        When teams like College of Charleston, North Texas, Florida International, etc appear on SEC regular season schedules starters for those SEC teams don’t play all of the game. You are arguing that the game was ‘devalued’ because the starters didn’t play the entire game or only that the result was irrelevant?
        (see Oklahoma vs Kansas State – 2003)

        Had Indy won the game with its backups playing would you have made the same charge?

        Keep in mind, Cincinnati is a BCS conference team that went undefeated. Each and every game that Cincinnati played this year was irrevelant/devalued so long as Texas and Alabama didn’t lose a game.

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        • Puffdawg

          Those SEC starters came out of the game because the game was in hand, not because their teams had locked up the playoffs. Indy’s starters came out while the outcome of that game completely hung in the balance. Not a good comparison.

          Cincinnati won their conference and are going to a BCS game after beating up on the 50th best schedule in football. Pretty good in my opinion (although I have said I would be ok with a Plus One, which would have included them).

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          • Phocion

            “Cincinnati won their conference and are going to a BCS game after beating up on the 50th best schedule in football.”

            Cincy has the #42 SoS…Texas, #30.

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  5. keith

    The regular season in the NFL is 16 games. A LOT different than our 12 game version. Not enough time to distance yourself from the others. In my scenario, you have to win your conference. This year even though Bama and UF ran away with their respective divisions, neither team would be guaranteed a spot in a 16 team playoff unless their records stayed unblemished through to the SECCG. What if UF had 1 loss going into the SECCG and with the loss to Bama, maybe they don’t get in. Can’t rest your starters. Eleven conference winners and 5 at large. Conference winners play at home. Maybe Florida still gets in but because of that other loss they have to travel to play Boise in 15 degree weather on that awful blue field instead of playing the 12th seed Temple Owls on the road.

    THE REGULAR SEASON WOULD STILL MATTER.

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    • So Troy gets a home game and Florida, which beat Troy by 50, doesn’t.

      I’m sure nobody will bitch about that.

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    • DawgPhan

      thanks for the MPU(or mythical playoff unicorn) post. It exactly illustrates my previous point.
      The debate goes something like this…

      Everyone else has a playoff.

      The NFL devalues their regular season with said playoff. (that doesnt matter our season is different)

      So if our season is different then maybe we need a different way of determining the champion. (Everyone else has a playoff.)

      –variations include offering up some strange playoff scenario where a 12-1 Florida could be left out or would have to travel to Boise…
      Bonus points:
      -include that a playoff would make more money -mention a cartel or monopoly
      -mention that CFB fans love to travel
      Double bonus
      -creating a new word like opt-in monopoly

      …and so begins the long winter of discontent.

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  6. DawgPhan

    Also I believe that the idea of constructing a playoff based on the existing conferences is an exercise in futility. The winner of the SEC is not the same as the winner of the MAC.

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  7. keith

    I only use the conference champions because I feel it is the only way a playoff gets done. We will have a playoff one day because the season is coming where a 12-0 Ohio St and a 12-0 USC get passed over by a 13-0 Georgia(biased) and a 13-0 Oklahoma. Thats when all hell will break loose.

    And I didn’t say a 12-1 Florida, I said a 12-2 Florida has to travel to a 13-0 Boise and I don’t think there would be anything wrong with that.

    And I also prefer a 8 team playoff as opposed to the 16 team because I don’t think Troy and Houston and so forth need to be in a playoff with the big boys.

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  8. Puffdawg

    I still have not seen an effective counterpoint that proves with facts the regular season will not lessen in importance based on the scenario this post was intended. Other than saying the NFL is “different” than college, despite the fact that you want what the NFL currently has… a playoff.

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  9. keith

    If you can’t see that a regular season will not be devalued based on an 8 team playoff, then I nor anyone else can help you. It can’t be proven with facts, just scenarios that will happen over time based on history.

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  10. keith

    Oh, and whatever its based on will be better than the system in place now. After watching the BCS bowl lineups in the last few years and their outcomes, you can’t tell me that TCU or Boise or Cincinnati couldn’t beat Bama or Texas. You might use stats to try and prove it, but as last nights riveting Independence Bowl proved, stats are for losers.

    And therein lies the problem.

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    • Puffdawg

      Typically in a debate, you don’t win by throwing facts out the window, and using “just scenarios that will happen over time based on history” (cue AFLAC duck “HUH?”). They are a vehicle of proof, thus strengthening an argument. Going back to the original point behind this post, there is a scenario in an identical sport (football) which has proven that the regular season loses its luster when a playoff is instituted. That is fact. Not opinion. That fact has not been effectively disputed in this arena, other than a vague comment about how “this situation is different.” What playoff system currently in place has a regular season equal in magnitude week to week, to CFB?

      Also, “based on history” is exactly what Senator is doing here. He is using precedent to prove what happens in playoff type environments.

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  11. derek

    Not a solid argument at all because of how different the NFL is. This simply wouldnt happen in CFB.

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  12. keith

    Okay here ya go, the Colts were the only team in the NFL, up till this past Monday night football game, that didn’t have anything to play for. And that is because they were undefeated after 14 games.. I think that has happened only like 3 times since the Dolphins undefeated season. So, with only one week left in the NFL season there isn’t a wildcard spot taken yet in the AFC. Seven teams are shooting for the remaining three spots. It is different in the NFC although last week they were fighting for the division and home field throughout, thats why you saw Brett Favre on the field against the hard hitting Bears defense on Monday night football. Even though they had clinched the division, they still had something to play for. Yes you might see them rest this week, but thats only because of a 16 game schedule which gives teams a chance to distance themselves from other teams. In a 12 game season that just isn’t going to happen when there is only room for 8 teams.

    You just can’t compare the two leagues in the devaluing term you are trying to use. Also, the last week of the year in College Football is reserved for rivalry games. You really don’t think Bama would sit Julio when they had a spot clinched having to travel to Auburn the last game, do you?

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    • You started out by arguing that what the Colts did didn’t devalue the regular season. Now you seem to be arguing that it did, but it’s not relevant to college football.

      I’m having a hard time keeping up with you, Keith. 😉

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      • DawgPhan

        I think most everyone is having a hard time keeping up with anyone who wants to toss aside some facts and empirical evidence…use some empirical evidence as fact and flip flop between they are so different that you can’t compare and let’s compare these 2 similar things.

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      • Phocion

        This year, from the middle of November to the first weekend in Decemeber, the only relevant games in all of college football involved Alabama, Florida, and Texas.

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  13. keith

    No, I never said what the Colts did wouldn’t devalue the season. I AM telling you that wouldn’t happen in a TWELVE game season in college football.

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    • Puffdawg

      So we all agree with Senator on the premise of this post. That is progress. The fact that the NFL has a playoff, the Colts had done all they needed to in the regular season in 13 games and thus their remaining 3 regular season games are irrelevant has been established. Their regular season has been devalued by playoffs.

      Now, Keith, the 12 game or 16 game season is not the problem that lies at the center of your argument. The problem is that once playoff creep sets in, which it inevitably will based on any playoff ever in the history of playoffs, going 10-2 will be just as good as going 9-7 in the NFL, because once you’re in the dance, you’re in. Said another way, it will be less important (or less “valuable”) than it is now to win all your games. Right now, there are 5, count ’em, FIVE teams hovering around .500 in the NFL who are still eligible to get hot for a few games and be crowned the NFL’s best team. If that’s what gets you excited, then good. But I for one don’t believe they should even get the chance.

      Even at 8 teams you would have multiple 2 loss teams in the playoffs (based upon current BCS rankings). You cannot tell me the regular season now (where you normally have to win ALL of your games to even sniff the ultimate goal) versus a playoff (where you can lose two games and still get in) are equal in importance. They just aren’t. EVERY GAME MATTERS under the current system, whereas you could afford a loss or two under almost all playoff formats.

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      • Puffdawg

        And that doesn’t even touch on what teams would be eligible for the 8 slots. Just because Team A wins the WAC and Team B comes in second in the SEC does not mean Team A is more qualified than Team B to vie for the Nat’l Title. That totally does not seem fair to me. That is not settling it on the field fairly. Florida would beat Boise 8 times out of ten at an absolute minimum, I don’t care where the game is. So how do you fix that problem? Include more teams. My belief is that college football has too many teams and is waaaaaay to regionalized to truly crown a champion beyond all shadow of a doubt. Let’s keep what makes the sport so special intact. Does anybody remember when it meant something to get to the Sugar Bowl? Anybody remember how good 2002 felt?

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  14. Puffdawg

    And sorry for the long posts. T. Kyle King would be proud.

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  15. Around and around we go – wheeee!

    It seems that the main question here is whether or not what the Colts did (sitting players after their spot in the playoffs was wrapped up thereby skewing the whole AFC and making a mockery of the notion of “competition”) would occur if college football had a playoff. But we’re dealing with competing definitions of “meaning” here.

    There’s meaning as in “competing to the fullest every time you step on the field”. The NFL doesn’t have this, as we saw with the Colts. College football does – teams compete hard every game because they know they only way they’ll get to the championship (or to a bowl, once the title game is out of reach), is to be seen as better than other teams. Level of performance is directly tied to rankings which are tied to everything. Even teams that are 2-7, playing for “nothing”, still try their fullest – they never rest players in order to possibly win the next game.

    There’s also meaning as in “every game has a direct impact on who plays for the championship”. The NFL doesn’t have this either – Sunday’s game between the Browns & Raiders had no impact whatsoever on who will make the playoffs. College football currently does have this. The game between Arkansas State and Western Kentucky impacts strength of schedule for their opponents, something that both computers and humans take into account because of the ranking system.

    Finally, there’s meaning as in “each game is of the exact same importance”. College football currently has this too, since teams records at the end of the regular season are one of the biggest determining factors in the rankings. It wouldn’t have mattered which game Texas lost this year – if they were 12-1 instead of 13-0, they wouldn’t be in the title game. The Big12 championship was no bigger than the Oklahoma game which was no bigger than the Baylor game.

    So what of this would change if college football had a playoff? Well, obviously there’s debate about whether or not teams would compete as hard once they had sewn up a playoff spot. The fan in me likes to think they would, but the cynic and realist says that winning a championship is too important nowadays – I think it wouldn’t be as blatant as the Colts sitting their starters up 15-10, but I think it would happen somehow.

    Would every game have a direct impact on the championship? Probably, but definitely not to the same degree. If you automatically include conference champions, then non-conference games drop way down on the impact-o-meter. If conference champions aren’t automatically included, then the rankings retain most of their power and the impact of each game only drops slightly.

    As far as each game being of the same importance, that would go right out the window once the playoff started. You’re 13-0 and won the SEC but lost on a blown call to a 9-3 team in the first round of the playoff? Too bad – you’re out. All those games you won (or lost) in August-November don’t matter.

    As I like to say, in the end, it all boils down to whether or not you want your champion to be the best (even if that’s disputable) or if you want them to be undisputable (even if they’re not the best).

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    • Ed, that’s as good a summary on the differences between the college game and the NFL as I’ve read. Thanks for that.

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    • Phocion

      “There’s also meaning as in “every game has a direct impact on who plays for the championship”. The NFL doesn’t have this either – Sunday’s game between the Browns & Raiders had no impact whatsoever on who will make the playoffs.”

      This is an incorrect statement.

      STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE is very clearly spelled out as a tie breaker in the NFL.

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  16. Phocion

    “The Big12 championship was no bigger than the Oklahoma game which was no bigger than the Baylor game.”

    This statement is also false.

    Last year, Oklahoma’s loss to Texas was a ‘better loss’ than Texas’ loss to Texas Tech…hence, OU in the Big12 CG. Had Texas beaten Tech but lost to Baylor there would not have been to controversy that happened last year. So, who you lose to does in fact matter. Besides, claiming that all losses in a season are equal lies directly at odds with your SoS contention.

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  17. keith

    1. Head-to-Head
    2. Division Record
    3. Common Games
    4. Conference Record
    5. Strength of Victory
    6. Strength of Schedule

    Thats the order of the tiebreaker in the NFL, just in case you were wondering where it fits in. How often do they make it that far?

    Like phocion pointed out above,
    This year, from the middle of November to the first weekend in Decemeber, the only relevant games in all of college football involved Alabama, Florida, and Texas. Even with that, TCU and Cincinnati and Boise still should have a shot.

    All this really doesn’t matter cause as I said before, the day is coming when one of the big boys(USC and Ohio St) get left out of the big game even with identical records to those in it. And heaven forbid they both get left out in favor of us an Oklahoma. That would be sweet and the Rose Bowl would be a huge consolation game for them at least. LOL.

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    • This year, from the middle of November to the first weekend in Decemeber, the only relevant games in all of college football involved Alabama, Florida, and Texas.

      That is a garbage argument, made with the benefit of hindsight. At the time those games were being played, the other contending schools’ games mattered.

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  18. keith

    I think every argument is a garbage argument to you Senator unless it benefits your train of thought. It seems every single post you have had on the subject since the end of the season has been toward your line of thinking. I don’t recall an article(not saying there wasn’t one) that would be on the side of some sort of playoff.
    For what its worth, I think the line of, “the regular season would be devalued” is the single most asinine argument against a playoff.

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  19. keith

    Now you are confusing me, I thought you were against a playoff.

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    • I’m against an extended playoff.

      I’ve written favorably about BCS Guru’s four-team proposal.

      If I were the god-king of college football, I’d remake D-1 into eight ten-team power conferences and have an eight-team playoff comprised solely of conference champs. Maybe someday…

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  20. keith

    Whew Senator, finally a little something we can agree on. I would still rather have 8 teams though.

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  21. No system is perfect, but situations like the 14-0 Colts are exceptionally rare.

    A great regular season is meaningless if the post-season and method of choosing a champion is worthless.

    14-0 teams shutting it down happen rarely.

    The BCS sucks the big one every single year for at least 4-6 teams.

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  22. “Keep in mind, Cincinnati is a BCS conference team that went undefeated. Each and every game that Cincinnati played this year was irrelevant/devalued so long as Texas and Alabama didn’t lose a game.”

    That is a great point, and it is one that cannot be countered by the anti-playoff people whatsoever.

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