“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.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

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

  1. Mayor

    I’m concerned with the committee and have been ever since the announcement that a committee was being chosen. All they had to do was to keep the BCS as it was and use the computers to pick the top 4 instead of top 2. Soooo, why exactly do they have to have a committee? To keep the SEC from having 2 or more teams in the playoff–that’s why. It was bad enough to the Big 10 and Big 12 when their conference champions consistently lost to the SEC representative in the BCSNCG, but when the computers said that the second best SEC team was better than the Big 10, ACC, PAC 12 and Big 12 champions, that was the last straw–particularly for Delaney. This is really about money. The 2011 season resulted in the SEC getting both ends of the BCSNCG take and Delaney and the other conference commissioners couldn’t stand that.

    • This is really about money.

      Yep. Contrary to what many hope, that’s what playoff expansion has been, is and forever will be all about.

      • Macallanlover

        Sigh. This first, and hopefully only, expansion will not be about money, it will be mandated by a fatal flaw in the attempted solution. It is a literal half assed solution. Money will be a by product of fixing it, not the driver.

        • Connor

          I’m sure the people who will expand the playoffs for monetary reasons but wish to convince us its for fairness reasons will appreciate how little effort they’ll need to put into convincing you. Saves them money.

          • Macallanlover

            That’s true, but I resent the money, and time, they wasted with a solution that accomplished nothing just to pacify folks on your side of the equation. Like needing transportation and coming on with a vehicle with no tires or gas….gotta go back and finish the drill. Safe to say there are a lot of differing opinions around the CFB landscape. I don’t think the decision makers are all evil and operate strictly for reasons of greed, just incompetent and lacking courage.

  2. Macallanlover

    The SEC persecution complex is tiring. We should not have a 2nd team until all 5 conference champs are represented. All SEC teams have their shot, that is more than one conference will be able to say.

    Also hard to feel sorry for the computer nerds, there were some wild deviations from one another that undermined their credibility. I was a supporter of them initially but then realized the subjective inputs were as biased as any human poll, with the exceptiin of the Coach’s Poll. If all teams started at an equal place it seems it should have enough linkage to give us a true power poll. The variances between computers proved they were flawed, shouldn’t all computers arrive at the same answer? My calculator does.

    • James

      +1 on both accounts.

      It would be one thing if this was baseball, but a computer isn’t going to be able to, without any subjective inputs, be able to compensate for an incredibly small sample size and pathetic inter-conference connectedness of data — and really if you think about it the only thing that mattered was comparing schools from different conferences, ranking teams within a conference is perfectly moot since those conferences already have an agreed upon way of crowning a champion.

    • pantslesspatdye

      Are you saying we need 5 or more teams in the playoffs? Do you think that a better team in a better conference should not get to the playoffs based soley on their conference affiliation?

      The computer models were based on varied theory and was pretty progressive for the time. The purpose of having multiple computer inputs was to smooth out the fluctuations and variability. No one cares that your calculator does arithmetic consistently.

      • Macallanlover

        With the lack (or significance) of scheduling overlay between conferences I feel each conference champ should have a seat at the table. It legitimizes the school that prevails because everyone could have been there had they won their conference. That representation is critical to me because of it’s inclusiveness, while still remaining exclusive. I think you have to step back from your/my/our SEC favoritism and see how you feel when told, from a subjective standpoint that your champion isn’t worthy and you are deemed irrelevant.

        That damned near occurred in 2007 when a large majority of the country agreed with Herbie that a rematch of Ohio and Michigan represented the best BCS title game. LSU proved how you cannot make those assumptions because there are legitimate differences between conferences and it changes to some degree every year. It did happen in 2004 when an undefeated, and excellent, AU team was denied the privilege of playing in that BCS game. I am suggesting that all conference champs are even, just that we will never know unless they play. This year is one of those where the conference that looks the best, top to bottom, is the PAC12. A two loss team in that conference may well be better than the SEC or Big 12 champ but I am pretty sure the PAC 12 will not get 2 teams in the 2014 playoff….hell, they may not get one.

        • pantslesspatdye

          I should have read some of your other posts to follow your perspective; I still disagree with you. If the SEC puts out a stinker one year, we should be left out, too.

          The winner of GT vs Clemson a few years back in the ACC title game, should not have any seat at the table.

          After seeing your “proposal,” it does take away my biggest problem with the subjectivity of the current system. In 2007, with impartiality gone, ESPN decided who was going to be in the title game (sans Herbie, of course). I don’t necessarily think it should have been us, but the way it went down was absurd. The committee deflates ESPN somewhat, but their editorial room still holds sway. I’m not necessarily a fan of the committee or the new system, btw.

          • Mayor

            FWIW, the SEC did put out a stinker one year–2007. That season the best 2 teams in the conference (LSU and UGA) each had 2 losses. What was the result? LSU still got to play in the BCSNCG and won the title. And UGA was actually better than LSU and got left out.

          • Macallanlover

            I understand, there are many considerations of how this should be done. I really wish we could do six teams but feel the byes involved in that tilts the field too much and eight allows for anyone who has any decent case at all with conference runners-ups, independents, and the occasional mid-major.

    • uglydawg

      Gotta disagree with you on this one, Mac. It should be the four best teams regardless of what conference or part of the country they are in. If we want the best product, we have to put in the best ingredients.
      Suppose…and it’s not far fetched…another scenario like the one with LSU and Bama comes up..two SEC teams so even that it’s hairsplitting…And they are clearly the very best in the land….
      So the question is…are we looking to crown a team as “best in America”
      or “Champions of the Interconferece Championship Tournament”?
      Because that’s what it will be if we include chumpy teams just because they won their conference.

      • Mayor

        Not saying that I disagree with you on that ug, but that (“we include chumpy teams just because they won their conference”) has happened several times already under the old BCS. Ohio State, I’m looking right at you.

      • +1.

        A few years ago the ACC Champion was a mediocre Georgia Tech team. There were at least 6 SEC teams, including us, who could beat them. And we weren’t even close to being a Top 5 team.

        And there are even worse examples. If you want to have a NCG with any integrity at all, you have to try to identify the best teams. And IMHO, there aren’t 8 of them. There might be 5 in some years, but not 8.

        • But that doesn’t mean going to 8 teams might not be a good thing, especially for the SEC.

          The problem is, will the committee, in the current format, be able to discern that a 1 or 2-loss SEC team is better than an undefeated or 1-loss team in a lesser conference (which is the case most of the time)? I doubt it.

          So the 8-team playoff may be in the best interests of the SEC. But it’ll depend on how the committee works.

        • Actually more years than not, there are no more than three.

          But your point about eight is well taken. And is why I expect the playoffs to expand beyond eight one day. As they say, in for a penny, in for a pound.😉

          • Macallanlover

            I don’t necessarily disagree with you about 3, 4, or 5 being the number of teams at the very top, but I feel slightly over-serving placates the masses (yeah, there will always be some bitching, but at a much reduced volume) and undermines any legit arguments. As stated forever, I am not in for the whole pound. Eight is the max, I fall off support for expansion at that number. I also think a CFB playoff at the D1 level is workable for many reasons.

          • Dawgaholic

            The focus should be that every team with a legitimate claim that it is No. 1 should be included. It’s rare to have 4 teams that could make that claim and 2007 is the only year I can think of where more than 4 teams could make that claim. If you’re fighting over whether your team or another team that can’t make a legitimate claim to be No. 1 gets a lucky break and gets in at 3 or 4, you don’t really have a beef. I don’t get it with b-ball either – who gives a sh*t about getting in if you definitively deserve to be there.

            • Bulldawg165

              This has been my thoughts on the matter as well. If you’re #5, you really can’t complain because you likely lost a game and therefore, you had full control over your circumstances. The only thing that irks me is when an undefeated team is left out

          • I expect the playoffs to expand beyond eight one day.

            Hope you’re wrong about that. It would be a tragic mistake, IMO. Even 8 concerns me. But perhaps the game could absorb 8, though we’d likely lose a regular-season game. IDK.

            I suspect the best answer is the current format, with the committee doing a good job of discerning the best teams. But I have little to no confidence that will happen.

    • Dog in Fla

      “shouldn’t all computers arrive at the same answer? My calculator does.”

      Ladies at NASA Research Lab check Mac’s calculator.
      Confirm that it comes up with same answer each time

  3. Scorpio Jones, III

    It will be interesting to see how at least one of the committee members deal with the idea that Bama has weapons of mass destruction.

  4. Again though Senator, expand things past 8, or even by expanding to 8, does that not significantly alter the college football post season landscape with the bowls? Or is that what concerns you?

  5. Atticus

    Who cares you just tell the 5th team to shut the hell up because they had no chance in either of the previous systems anyway…..

    • Duglite

      It’ll be UGA. 😣

      • Macallanlover

        Have some Kool Aide, and don’t think such wonderful thoughts. I hope the end of this year sees us that high because it will signal some very positive things for the next couple of years. I am not against wishing for it all but this team has a lot of unknowns and that doesn’t sound too bad to me.

  6. Mark

    I think it will eventually go to 8 teams. More than that will damage the regular season which is the real money making machine in college football.

    While arguing about the difference between the #8 and #9 teams may be fun, it won’t create near the passion as arguing about the difference between the #2 and #3 teams.

    • Except the regular season may be tapped out. It’s all about new revenue streams. Since the regular season is reaching its pinnacle, the only way to add new money is to expand the playoff. It will go to 8. Then, it will go to 16. Then, someday, it will go to 20 or 24. How many is in the 1-AA playoff this year?

      • James

        Wiki (and write down this timeline, it looks about right for D1, but also suggests it wont go past 16):

        When Division I-AA was formed for football in 1978, the playoffs included just four teams, doubling to eight teams in its fourth season of 1981. In 1982 the I-AA playoffs were expanded to 12 teams, with each of the top four seeds receiving a first-round bye and a home game in the quarterfinals. In its ninth season of 1986, the I-AA playoffs were expanded again to a 16-team format, requiring four post-season victories to win the title. Eight conference champions received automatic bids, with the remaining eight bids available on an at-large basis.

      • Doggoned

        I agree with this. Playoff TV money will soon dwarf regular-season income, even though it’s only the rich who will be getting richer.

      • Mark

        In business, there’s also something called diminishing returns. if they expand the post season, they may find that the revenue being brought in by the regular season actually decreases. We are seeing the beginning of that now because of TV. It’s harder for the colleges to get butts in the seats. There’s not much money made on college basketball regular season because it is irrelevant. Make the regular season irrelevant in college football and it won’t make near the money it makes now.

    • PTC DAWG

      I don’t understand the damage to the regular season part of going to 8.

      With an at-large portion of the field, every game will count big time.

      • Macallanlover

        Nailed it, the regular season will actually be enhanced at that point (8). I do agree expansion beyond that (6 and higher) will be both unnecessary, and logistically/financially unfeasible.

        • RocketDawg

          Wrong. If you are an 11-0 Bama playing an 11-0 Auburn to end the season with the winner to the SECCG and the loser almost certain to get an “at large” birth with an 11-1 record how does that not devalue the Iron Bowl? In a way wouldn’t it be better to LOSE that game and basically guarantee a spot in the playoffs where a loss in the SECCG to a 8-3 Georgia or Florida would knock you out?

          • Macallanlover

            Every single game would/could mean something because it has a “guaranteed” place to work for. Now, you are at the mercy of a “system”, that is not only subjective but doesn’t have enough room for each conference champ. That makes it iffy.

      • Mark

        IMO, 8 is about all it can take. Right now, to some extent, the regular season acts as a defacto playoff system. However, go to 16 teams and a lot of teams with 2 and maybe some teams with 3 losses get in there. Colleges become NFL light where divisions no longer matter just make sure you get in on a wild card.

        What happens to UGA vs Tech when UGA makes it to the playoffs and has secured a top seed. Do we play our best players or rest them?

          • Dawgaholic

            If you had to do more, 6 is the number as the bye will make every game valuable even if you have two unbeaten teams. Add in that the 3-6 games and 4-5 could be played on campus and the difference in being 3 or 4 and being 5 or 6 is huge. That also let’s all the good teams with a loss or a weak schedule fight it out on the field for the chance to be in the final 4 yet rewards the top two teams.

            • The problem I have with a six-team proposal is, if you’re going to treat the two best teams differently from the rest of the field, why expand beyond two best teams in the first place?

              • Dawgaholic

                You make a good point Senator, but it would increase regular season emphasis. It’s also a plan that seems to work well with football as it mimics how the NFL chooses conference champions. Also, why should a two loss team or a team with one loss and a weak schedule be on the same footing as an undefeated team.

  7. To quote Colley in the story is laughable, his methodology was the absolute worst. Also, the six computer guys who wrote the algorithms got a larger say in the process than the individual pollsters, so of course, there’s sour grapes. Sagarin, Colley, and the rest of them truly don’t matter now.

    • PTC DAWG

      It was my understanding that the 6 computer polls made up 1/3 of the BCS poll. Which would lesson their contribution to 1/6 of 1/3.

      That said, I wish we had kept the BCS poll to pick the top 4, or 8 if it got to that.

    • The computer algorithms were intentionally made less reliable because the pollsters, the media, etc. didn’t agree with their output. They removed predictive measures and tried to shoehorn the computer polls into alignment with popular opinion or ESPN’s opinion, whichever you choose to call it. Just because the computers spit out something unexpected didn’t mean they were wrong.

      I hardly see how the opinions of people who couldn’t possibly watch enough football to accurately assess the top fifteen teams in the country was/will be better.

      • My point is that one guy who developed a computer algorithm, which also has bias in the design, has the same voice of approximately 10 coaches (62/6) or 17 voters in the Harris Poll (105/6). Why was that even remotely fair to the system in the BCS days?

        There is no perfect system for the selection of the playoff participants because of the unbalanced nature of the conferences as they exist now and the size of D-1. 4 balanced, 16-team conferences (with conference championship games or 8 8-team conferences (with full round-robin play) where teams only play other teams (no FCS and no mid-majors) would get to the best answer with a 8-team champions-only postseason. This solution would require an additional round of realignment and the elimination of one of the “Power 5.” The implementation of this model isn’t reasonable for many reasons, so we’re stuck with a bad system that begs for bracket creep.

        • Macallanlover

          I agree, the 16 team four super conference plan would be the best and would give us a defacto 8 team playoff with virtually all subjectivity removed (look at the final tie-breaker for the SEC division representatives). That would be the ultimate decide-it-on-the-field playoff champion. As you noted though, there would be many complex roadblocks to navigate to get that done. Interestingly, had Texas made a different decision 3 years ago, we would probably be there now. That opportunity was very close to becoming reality and now the door has closed. I don’t see anything in the current leadership and the myriad of contracts in effect that makes me that they can get this done in my lifetime.

          • RocketDawg

            And then it becomes the NFL-lite and college football is dead

            • Macallanlover

              You may want to change that ultra, ultra light NFL. 8 teams represent less than 7% of the total D1 schools. Use that percentage in the NFL and you would have 2 teams. What do they have 30+% now? Hardly a valid comparison, and it is worse in some other sports. I understand you feel differently, and that is cool, but let’s keep the argument in perspective, exaggerating known facts or using scare words actually undermines your position. CFB has serious issues but if dies it will not because we instituted a limited playoff.

              I understand some would rather not change anything from 20 years ago and just have fans argue about it. I can respect that position more than the “we are becoming the NFL” or regular season would mean nothing arguments. Taking the artificial barriers to entry down, while maintaining a highly exclusive, yet inclusive, number of teams in would excite CFB fans like nothing before, imo.

              • RocketDawg

                I get where you are coming from and I respect your opinion (I agree with a lot of your posts on here), but on this we are going to have to agree to disagree. You say that an 8 team playoff would only represent 8% of CFB, honestly the only teams that really have a shot are the power 5 schools. Adding the SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and Notre Dame together gives us 63 schools so 8 teams would be 12.5% of the “realistic” field. That is too many, there aren’t 8 teams out of that group that have a legitimate claim to playing for a championship. I am not opposed to four 16 team super conferences where the conference championship games serve as a first round and then the 4 winners play for the crystal ball. The caveat to that is that those super conferences can only play teams in the other super conferences so essentially that kills the smaller DI and DIAA programs that depend on the “money games” to fund their athletic departments.

                I would rather go back to the days where the objective of the season was to win the SEC and go to the Sugar Bowl.

                • Mayor

                  The way around starving the smaller D-I and D-IAA teams is for every D-IA team to be required to play 1 such team and also limited to playing 1 such team a year.

                • Dawgoholic

                  The reality is that a lot of the schools in the Power 65 have no realistic chance of playing for a championship either. The NFL has 32 teams that have a realistic chance of playing for a championship in a given year. There are multiple teams in the Power 65 that have no realistic shot at winning the national championship – you can start with about 2/3 of the ACC. You can then add at least a few teams from every other conference – I’m looking at you Vandy and Kentucky.

                  The reality is that to say there are 50 teams that have a realistic shot to win a national championship in the next ten years is a stretch. In fact, if you told me I had to pick twenty teams that would win the next 10 national championships I’m much more confident I’d get all ten or at least 9 of the ten than if you told me I had to pick twenty NFL teams that would win the next 10 Super Bowls.

                  It’s arguable that the number of teams with a shot at a national title is actually less than the number of NFL teams with a shot at winning the Super Bowl.

                  • Macallanlover

                    You and the others make good points about the actual viability of some teams, there is no disputing that. (The NFL has that same thing every year as well.) But part of the dream is that every team, along with their fan base, should begin every season with a dream of winning every game, or their conference championship, and that should lead somewhere….not find a roadblock awaiting them because we didn’t want to have one more game for just two teams out of the 127.

                    Being in the top 5% is a standard of excellence that should be rewarded for young people who work over 300 days a year preparing for the season. And when there is a winner from those 8, fans throughout the country have to admit that the winning team beat their conference’s best representative on the field. It doesn’t matter if it is a one loss Oregon, or an undefeated Boise who beat three Power 5 teams during the season, we may have over included by 3 or 4, but we legitimized the champion beyond doubt. That is significant for me, and feel it energizes the regular season.

                    I respect the differing points of view but feel the number 8 is the right size. I can support 4 with the 16 team super conference model, and could support six if I could get past the bye process being two much of an edge. My thoughts on that are in line with the Senator, people would say the 2 teams with a bye were given the championship by a subjective vote of which deserved the bye.

  8. 69Dawg

    Well based on my retirement TV viewing, the SEC has Zero chance of getting two in the playoff. The WWL has now got it’s FPI (Football Power Index) ready to influence the committee. What the hell is FPI anyway. If it’s good and not just a way for ESPN to pick the top 4 why not make it’s formula public. This thing is going to be a good old fashion Cluster F***.

  9. Lrgk9

    No matter what name you use to describe a closed door secret process of “selection” it’s still sub rosa, cabal, shibboleth, and in camera.

    A veratible granfalloon in fine WWL Bokonistic 1960’s smokey back rooms tradition.

  10. Bulldawg Bill

    Has anyone here considered the impact that the economy is going to have on this whole scheme? People are having problems paying the required donations and inflated ticket prices for the regular season.. Then there’s the issue of Bowl game prices. 175.00 to 400.00 for bowl tickets is just a bit rich for my taste. And those are at face price. Either regular season attendance or playoff/bowl attendance will take a hit.

    • James

      The schools are pushing prices as high as the market will support, and they continue to push them because the market is accepting them. If they push too far, they’ll just back off, like Michigan is doing this year.

      I do think attendance will drop, but don’t confuse attendance with revenue. If you want a good example: ask the yankees how much money they’re making on their behind the plate seats vs. how many people actually show up to use already-purchased tickets.