The Perfect College Football Playoff System: 2009 Version

Last year I introduced what I consider to be the perfect college football playoff system.  The BCS selections were made a couple of days ago, and while there is less national controversy this year than in previous years, there are still problems with the BCS system in 2009.  The primary problems this year include:

-  Three teams have undefeated seasons (Cincinnati, TCU, and Boise State), yet will have no chance whatsoever at the national championship.  And this year more than most I believe these teams actually have a shot.  I personally believe TCU would likely beat Texas right now for example.

-  The two teams from non-BCS conferences that made a BCS bowl PLAY EACH OTHER?!  What a waste!  It has nothing to do with Boise State not respecting TCU - I am sure they do.  But what both programs desperately need is to show what they can do against the traditionally powerful conferences and teams – not play each other.  So Boise State plays TCU in the ‘Glass-Ceiling, non-BCS Fiesta Bowl’.  This will likely be a great and exciting game, but it is a wasted opportunity for both programs.  If the BCS powers can guarantee a Big 10 – Pac 10 matchup in the Rose Bowl (wink, wink) they can certainly officially or unofficially make sure that if two non-BCS conferences make the BCS that they do not play each other.

So once again, the BCS system shows it’s obvious flaws.  If the perfect college football playoff system were used in 2009, there would be 16 teams invited – 11 conference winners and 5 at-large teams.  These teams would be:

Georgia Tech – ACC
Cincinnati – Big East
Ohio State – Big 10
Texas – Big 12
E. Carolina – CUSA
C. Michigan – MAC
 TCU - MWC
Oregon – Pac 10
Alabama – SEC
Troy – Sun Belt
Boise State – WAC

Florida
Iowa
Virginia Tech
LSU
Penn State

These teams would then be seeded according to BCS rankings, and the following first round games would be played at the higher seeded teams home stadium:

Alabama vs. Troy
Texas vs. C. Michigan
Cincinnati vs. E. Carolina
TCU vs. Penn State
Florida vs. LSU
Boise State vs. Virginia Tech
Oregon vs. Iowa
Ohio State vs. Georgia Tech

After this round there would be a committee that would select regional matchups for neutral site bowl games with the winners advancing to a national championship game.  This is the perfect college football playoff system.

Oddly enough (with this being a Mormon blog)  BYU would be the highest ranked team not included in this playoff system, but when you get blown out, at home, by an unranked Florida State team, you don’t have much to complain about.

About these ads

31 Responses to “The Perfect College Football Playoff System: 2009 Version”


  1. 1 Hunter December 8, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I like it. Now, finish it off and give us your predictions of those eight matchups!

  2. 2 Eric Nielson December 8, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Thanks Hunter.

    Okay, I’ll bite. I honestly think the first round would go ‘chalk’ (Highest seeded home teams winning. That would leave the following teams:

    Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, TCU, Cincinnati, Boise State, Oregon, and Texas.

    If I were the committee setting up neutral site bowl games for the second round, I would set up the following:

    Oregon/Ohio State (Rose Bowl)
    Florida/Texas (Orange?)
    Alabama/Boise State (Sugar?)
    Cincinnati/TCU (Fiesta?)

    I would predict Oregon, Florida, Alabama, and TCU as a final four. I would set up:

    Florida/Alabama
    Oregon/TCU

    with a national championship game of:

    Alabama/TCU

  3. 3 Hunter December 8, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Excellent. I like it a lot. And honestly, who could argue with that result? Especially considering that TCU was possibly only one Cincy/Pitt field goal and one Texas field goal away from getting to play Alabama in Pasadena.

    Good work. Thanks.

  4. 4 John Mansfield December 8, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    When I was a kid, the Mint 400 ran each spring, a 400 hundred mile off-road race near Las Vegas. A prerequisite to winning was finishing, and many (most?) cars couldn’t finish. A class winner from one year stuck in my mind. Some distance from the finish (20 miles?) the first and second gears both went out on the truck’s transmission, so the driver drove the last bit in reverse, winning with a rather sore neck.

    I wonder if a Div. I football playoff would tend toward similar outcomes. After three hard-fought, win-or-go-home battles against teams roughly as good as themselves, the championship contenders may frequently show up at the stadium in reverse, missing first and second. It would likely lead to more concern for recruiting a deep roster.

  5. 5 Eric Nielson December 8, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Thanks Hunter.

    John:

    This could be, but most teams would not be affected by this at all. Teams could also eliminate one game, and could eliminate a conference championship game if it were that much of a concern.

  6. 6 Mark Brown December 8, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Agreed on the stupidity of the Fiesta Bowl. I really do think that TCU is better than Texas, and they have a 50/50 chance of beating Florida. Too bad we’ll never find out for sure.

    One big problem is that the bowls themselves have no interest in finding out which team is best. They each want the two teams which will put the most fannies in the stands and bring in the most TV ad revenue.

    The other problem is the nature of football itself, which Mansfield touches on. Can we really know much about a team which only plays 12 games a season? In MLB, they play 162 games a year and the champion is decided in a best of 7 series, and sometimes you still wonder if the best team won or if it was just the team whose bullpen got hot at the right moment. Even if Div. I went to a playoff, it’s still one and done. It’s great to see an underdog win an important game — for instance, it isn’t unthinkable that Boise State could beat Alabama. But if they played 10 times, ‘Bama would probably win 7 of 10. So we delude ourselves if we think this whole process is about finding out who is the best team.

  7. 7 Eric Nielson December 8, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Agreed, but we should at lest try.

  8. 8 Hunter December 8, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I agree, too, Mark. In the end, it’s not about producing a true champion. From the perspective of the Boise State’s and TCU’s, it’s about letting the little guy in on a share of the money. Yes, it’s all about the money, and the big guys don’t want to share.

  9. 9 John Mansfield December 8, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Mark Brown’s mention of baseball brings something else to mind. A playoff in college football often seems like a good idea because we see playoffs in lots of other sports, but the wear from a single football game is much greater than that seen in any other college sport. A basketball team at a tournament can play three or four games in as many days. When a football team has a bye week, there is often a sense of relief that the injured players will have some extra time to heal. I think boxing, where fighters go months between fights, is the only sport that wears down athletes’ bodies more.

  10. 10 Christopher December 8, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    John Mansfield, Division I-AA (FCS) uses a playoff format that has teams playing several consecutive weeks “against teams roughly as good as themselves,” and injuries don’t seem to be any more of a problem that in the regular season.

  11. 12 John Mansfield December 8, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    I’ve thought about those two comparisons. With the NFL, those are professionals, the ones whose superior physical fortitude, along with other qualities, allows them to continue taking a beating several more years. They’re also being paid to take that beating and to spend the time needed on physical therapy to recuperate and go out for more. We think of college players as quasi-semi-pro, but I think that only applies to the top quartile or less; the rest are pursuing a serious hobby. Comparing NFL football with Div. I NCAA, consider the difference in NBA playoffs with the NCAA tournament. Each round in the NBA is a seven game series. With four NBA rounds, the champion has to win 16 games and play as many 28, compared with 6 in the NCAA tournament.

    As far as other NCAA football divisions go, my guess is that the hitting isn’t as hard as in Div. I, and none of the players have a future football career to stay healthy for.

  12. 13 Christopher December 8, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    As far as other NCAA football divisions go, my guess is that the hitting isn’t as hard as in Div. I, and none of the players have a future football career to stay healthy for.

    Your guess is wrong.

  13. 14 Christopher December 8, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    I guess I should tease out that response a bit.

    First off, your suggestion that “none of those players have a future football career to stay healthy for” shows a general ignorance of not only Div. I-AA and Div. II football, but also NFL football. Tony Romo, Joe Flacco, Donald Driver, Marques Colston, Kurt Warner, Brian Westbrook, Kevin Boss, Terrell Owens, and a host of other current NFL players, together with former NFL stars Jerry Rice, Steve McNair, and Walter Payton all come from lower division schools. And it’s not just skill players either. See here for a sampling of current NFL players that played at FCS (Div. I-AA) schools.

    Secondly, I’m not entirely sure how one would gauge whether players at those level “hit as hard” as players at Div. I schools. It is worth noting that almost yearly a top Div. I-AA school knocks off a Div. 1 school from one of the major conferences (see Appalachian State’s win over Michigan a couple of years ago or William and Mary’s win over Virginia to open this season).

    The difference between the most competitive Div. I-AA teams and most Div. I teams simply is not that great.

    But all of that is beside the point. Even if Div. I players were bigger, stronger, and faster than the Div. I-AA counterparts, their superior athleticism and strength should sustain them against potential injuries at the hands of “teams roughly as good as themselves” in the exact same way that the supposedly less-athletic and weaker players of Div. I-AA schools do “against teams roughly as good as themselves.”

  14. 15 Eric Nielson December 8, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    John:

    I guess the players could turn down an invitation to play in this tournament, if they felt they were not up to it.

    As it is they all hope to go to a bowl game. Only 8 teams would have an extra game. Only 4 would have an extra two games. Only 2 would have an extra three games. And again, if the teams reduced their season by one game (which was added recently), then you could subtract one from above.

    I am not sure there is a football player worth his scholarship who would turn down an extra game or two for a shot at a national championship. I believe the voting for such would be unanimous.

  15. 16 John Mansfield December 8, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    It’s nice to hear the shortcomings in my theories. A few thoughts: The wear foregone of an omitted regular season game would be far less than that added with a couple of post-season games. Would all teams shorten their seasons in the hope they will end up as national tournament qualifiers? That last paragraph about the players being willing to do whatever it takes for a shot at a national championship hints at the gladiator aspect of what we are discussing. It is easy to imagine at some point a recoil from a currently hugely popular sport somewhat like boxing has experienced.

    Regarding Div. I-AA, it is true that I am exposing my ignorance, but I don’t mind since it draws out useful responses. Being able to point to a list of dozens of Div. I-AA players that went on to successful NFL careers still makes such outcomes seem like exceptions. Ability to inflict damage and ability to endure it probably do not scale the same.

    Maybe it would still be more desirable to have a national tournament, but if there were one, star players would shift more toward something like the situation with baseball pitchers, with judicious coaching choices about when to put players in based on a long view of the whole tournament. Maybe that would be a good thing, making the strength of the team more democratic.

  16. 17 Eric Nielson December 8, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Fine, John. Perhaps they could play flag football instead. Or maybe chess.

  17. 18 Christopher December 8, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Being able to point to a list of dozens of Div. I-AA players that went on to successful NFL careers still makes such outcomes seem like exceptions.

    Sure, but when your initial claim is that no players from those divisions have a future in the NFL, even exceptions prove you wrong.

    Ability to inflict damage and ability to endure it probably do not scale the same.

    I’m still not entirely sure what this means or how one would quantify it. I’m all for thoughtful proposals to reducing serious injuries in football and other contact sports, but I’m not convinced that a couple of extra games in a playoff format necessarily equal an increase in injuries.

  18. 19 John Mansfield December 9, 2009 at 7:06 am

    “Sure, but when your initial claim is that no players from those divisions have a future in the NFL, even exceptions prove you wrong.”

    Not really. This isn’t a fundamental law of nature under consideration. If a couple percent of NFL players came from Div. I-AA schools, it’s a good first-order approximation to say that no Div. I-AA players have to worry about a future pro career.

    “I’m not convinced that a couple of extra games in a playoff format necessarily equal an increase in injuries.”

    A 16 team tournament would require three games leading up to the championship round, which could loosely be considered “a couple,” but they would be tougher games than most of the regular season schedule. I think the teams meeting for the championship would have about 50% more wear than teams going to bowl games currently do.

  19. 20 John Mansfield December 9, 2009 at 8:54 am

    “Perhaps they could play flag football instead. Or maybe chess.”

    Or they could judiciously limit the amount of all-out post-season play to one game.

  20. 22 John Mansfield December 9, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Looking at TCU’s 2009 season, their margins of victory were: 16, 25, 4, 25, 3, 38, 31, 41, 43, 27, 35, and 41 points. Following that up with a hypothetical December in which they play Penn State, Cincinnati, and Oregon before facing Alabama is not a minor adjustment, even if one of the regular season games had been eliminated.

  21. 23 Eric Nielson December 9, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    So?

    Which game? Which teams?

  22. 24 John Mansfield December 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    “So?”

    So, if the change would be more than a minor adjustment, there is more to be addressed than just scheduling the stadiums, and the fact that it is not happenning is due to more than the greedy scheming of a cartel.

    “Which game? Which teams?”

    Alabama vs. Texas suits me fine. Suppose Mark Brown’s argument above is correct: “One big problem is that the bowls themselves have no interest in finding out which team is best. They each want the two teams which will put the most fannies in the stands and bring in the most TV ad revenue.” Another way of putting that is there is more interest among more people in watching the current bowl games than a national tournament.

  23. 25 Eric Nielson December 9, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    I personally doubt that player fatigue is an issue for the players or the NCAA – the extra regular season game recently added as evidence.

    I also doubt there is any more interest in current bowl game situation. Look at college basketball. How many sports fans come out of the woodwork during March madness? Plenty. The NFL playoffs are also a big hit.

  24. 26 Christopher December 9, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Another way of putting that is there is more interest among more people in watching the current bowl games than a national tournament.

    Hmm. I read Mark’s comment as suggesting that bowl officials have more interest in preserving the current format instead of switching to a playoff format. Where did you get the idea that “there is more interest among more people” in preserving the current format based on that comment?

  25. 27 John Mansfield December 9, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Mark’s words were “They each want the two teams which will put the most fannies in the stands and bring in the most TV ad revenue.” That seems equivalent to the notion that the bowl organizers are trying to maximize the number of people who will attend or watch (be interested in) their games.

  26. 28 Eric Nielson December 10, 2009 at 7:44 am

    This is why I suggerst that first round games are hosted by the higher seeded team. The stadiusm will be full. Second round matchups would be somewhat regional with very good teams.

  27. 29 Sterling December 30, 2009 at 1:28 am

    Sounds like a good system, but they could just drop it to eight teams, the 6 BCS conference champs and two at large schools. They could seed them according to the BCS ranking and play the first round at the four major bowl sites (like you said). Then play the last two at a neutral site that could be bidded on like the superbowl. Less post season games, more of the regular season counts. They should also not release any rankings until week 4 of the season so that everyone has a shot, until USC claims they arent in because the list of 4-0 teams was done alphabetically and thats why they didnt make it.

  28. 30 Eric Nielson December 30, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Sterling:

    I believe that would still leave teams out. If it were an 8 team It would be:

    Alabama
    Texas
    Ohio St.
    Oregon
    Cincinnati
    Georgia Tech

    as BCS conference champs and likely

    Florida and TCU as at large teams.

    Undefeated Boise State would not get in. This is a perfect example of why it needs to be 16 teams with each conference being represented.

  29. 31 Michael January 24, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    This is a good system. I came up with a similar one, but one difference is that I would use a bracket instead of an arbitrary commitee; and all games would be played at a home field until the championship game – that would guarantee sold out stadiums. The problem with any playoffs with the present conferences is that some have a conference playoff and others don’t. Therefore some teams could have as much as two weeks off before beginning the playoffs. I don’t think playoffs will work unless all conferences have a conference championship game or all don’t.

    As far as the “problem” of playing 16 games is rediculous. High school teams in Texas play 16 games to win the state title (6 of these are playoff games). Young men in college can’t do what kids in high school can do?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Bloggernacle



I'm a Mormon.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 261 other followers

The Author

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 123,020 hits

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 261 other followers

%d bloggers like this: