Category Archives: BCS/Playoffs

Thursday morning buffet

A little of this, a little of that and pretty soon all the chafing dishes are full.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Science Marches Onward, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The NCAA, Urban Meyer Points and Stares

The brackets, they creep.

Jim Harbaugh has a vision.

On if an 8- or 16-team playoff would water down the regular season: “The 1-AA teams have been very successful at that model. If my math is right, right now if you played through a national championship game that would be 15 games. If there were a 16-team playoff, it’d be 16 games under the current model. You’d probably take away the league championship game, put it at 16 games and only the two teams in the national title game would play that many. … Most teams would still play 13.”

Note that he never answered the question.

If you want to know what he’s thinking about

Harbaugh pointed to how the Football Championship Subdivision playoff “model has been successful.” The FCS has a true tournament feel and has grown from its initial four teams in 1978 to 24 teams since 2013.  [Emphasis added.]

Maybe it’s just me, but “a true tournament feel” and “water down the regular season” sure seem to have something in common.  But y’all go on and keep telling me how the FCS is different from the FBS because whatever.

Postseasons grow because there’s money in it, pure and simple.  Deny it all you want, but D-1 football isn’t immune from that.

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Think of the children, but don’t let the children think.

While I’m on my high horse about playoff expansion, let me not forget to mention Nick Saban’s objection to the same.  Yeah, he’s against, but not for the same reason.  His reason?  He’s Nick Saban, bitch!

“And we can have another discussion about the future of the playoffs and how many teams should get in the playoffs, but you’re going to minimize the effect of bowl games, which I stood up here ten years ago and said, as soon as we do this, it’s going to diminish bowl games, the importance of bowl games. Everybody would just be interested in the playoffs.”

If fans are no longer interested in the bowl games, Saban sees more seniors and NFL-bound juniors sitting out their final college game.

“Well, that’s where we are right now. I mean, we have players choosing not to play in bowl games because it’s not important because they’re going to save themselves for the draft. All of these things are not good for college football. So there’s a lot of philosophical questions that everybody needs to sort of take into consideration as what the best way to do this whole thing is, and I don’t think I have the answer to that. That’s not what I get paid to do.”

If anybody’s gonna sit for a meaningless game, it’ll be Saban’s choice, damn it, not some player’s.

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Tastes deserves! Less best!

Articles like this, where it’s suggested that the selection committee should ditch its quest to determine college football’s four best teams and favor an approach that excludes teams that don’t win their conference, won’t have an effect in the short run, but I expect they’ll leave a mark down the road.

Note that what really drives the argument there is frustration about the SEC landing two teams in the CFP semi-finals.  It’s clothed in a complaint about the subjective nature of picking the field.

Of course, a committee of some sort is necessary when you have four slots and more than four major conferences. But the committee is handed four criteria to consider — championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and comparative outcomes against common opponents — only when “teams are comparable.”

That’s too much wiggle room.

But don’t expect a change. Not even Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby endorsed limiting the field to conference champions.

“The original arguments in the early stages of this were, do we bring forward the four best conference champions or do we bring forward the four best teams? To some extent that discussion is continuing,” Bowlsby said.

Of course, that’s part of the problem. The idea that the committee can identify the four best teams. It’s a god complex. The idea that the committee’s intellect can supersede a championship process. Just go back to Penn State-Ohio State if you don’t believe it.

“We had some discussions at the CFP meetings in April about how … to value conference championships,” Bowlsby said. “What weight should that carry in the portfolio of each of the teams under consideration? We invited 13 honest people to go in a room and pick the best four teams and take into account a lot of criteria that may be weighted differently depending on who’s vantage point you have.

“I don’t think that we are in a situation where we want to get too prescriptive on that.”

Why the heck not? The committee is a necessary evil. Picking four teams to fill out the tournament is not a good idea, it’s just the best idea available. College football is too big, too unwieldy, to produce a non-subjective process. The NFL can do that. The NBA can do that. The college scene cannot, at least not in the current landscape.

But college football can at least lay more parameters for the decision-makers.

The problem with that, of course, is there are five power conferences and only four spots in the tourney.  In other words, even if you go to a conference-champ only field, a choice still has to be made about which team to exclude.  Even Tramel recognizes it.

The four-team playoff always was going to leave at least one conference on the outside. Five leagues, four spots.

But allowing non-champions creates the possibility of two leagues on the outside, and that’s what happened in 2017.

Alabama is a great program and had a great team. But Bama in 2017 played nine Power-5 Conference opponents before the playoff and wasn’t a conference champ. Southern Cal played 12 Power-5 foes before the playoff and was a conference champ. Alabama made the playoff. USC didn’t get a sniff.

Yeah, yeah.  The problem with arguments like there, which attempt to de-legitimize Alabama’s presence in last year’s CFP field, is that the Tide won the damned championship.  In other words, when you elevate most deserving over best, you may very well wind up with a different debate about the team crowned in the end.

That being said, we all know what the playoff is really about — spreading the wealth.  That’s why I think Tramel’s argument will eventually win out in the form of an eight-team playoff which will further dilute the strength of the participants by combining the objectivity of automatic berths for all P5 champs with the subjectivity of a guaranteed slot for a mid-major along with a couple of wild cards.  That, in turn, is going to lead to a slippery slope argument about the ninth team being better than at least one, if not more, of the chosen squads.  And that, in turn, will lead to moar expansion.  Boy, I can’t wait to fill out those brackets!

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“… but I was like, why are you kicking out the rankings?”

I agree with those of you that there should be some sort of computer element to the CFP, as there was in the BCS days.  For those of us who feel like that, you’ll enjoy reading this interview/oral history with the folks who were responsible for the BCS computer rankings.

This is my favorite bit:

The men were awkward, sure, but they were also outspoken, especially when the BCS changed the rules it used to govern the computers and the rankings in general. In 2002, it decided to drop margin of victory from the computer polls after Washington and Oregon had seen 11–1 campaigns marked by close, hard-fought wins come up short in the eyes of the rankings in consecutive seasons. Mike Tranghese, at the time the commissioner of the Big East, summed up the move this way: “A computer can’t get at the nuances of a score.”

Sagarin: “Somebody should have raised their hand and said, ‘Well just what are the nuances of a 59–3 score?’”

Sadly, I can see that being something the selection committee actually tries to fumble around and answer.

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Cinderella blues

The guiding principle of the CFP selection committee is to select the four best teams in the country to play in a postseason tourney for the national title and college football is defined by its lack of program parity, so if you’re questioning the CFP as being “too predictable“, you’re doing it wrong.

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Forget it, Jake. It’s Cupcakeville.

For those of you who insist that conferences still matter more than the national title hunt…

You can probably guess where that’s going.  Sigh.

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