Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Way That The NCAA Football Playoffs Should Be

If you have been following college football, you have no doubt heard about all the hullabaloo about how college football gets a National Playoff system with 4 teams.  #1 plays #4 and #2 plays #3.  sounds great.  That is, until you actually look at the way this is going to shake out.  This is the BDS on steroids and everybody in college football knows it.

Let us look at the way that the 4 teams are going to qualify for this thing.  They are going to be selected by a selection committee.  Oh boy!  Another selection committee that won't do the right thing.  Look at what March Madness brings.  Teams getting in because of ties to members of the committee, teams being left off out for some perceived wrongdoing to a committee member or their friends.  And the perception of the biased polling that is out there.  Don't look at me when I say that there will be bias in the polling for football, just look at what one of the all time greats of college football coaches has said about this selection committee, Bobby Bowden.  He said that if he was on the selection committee and he was trying to decide between Georgia and a team out west, let's say Utah, that he would pick Georgia because of the familiarity, friends, and reputation.  Coach Bowden isn't alone in that way of thinking.  Any coach will think the same way.  Almost every sportswriter would do the exact same.  Don't tell me that if a sports writer from Charleston, South Carolina has a voice on the committee and has the exact decision that Coach Bowden put out there hypothetically, that he isn't going to be biased towards the teams that he is familiar with.  So the selection committee idea isn't a real good idea.

There is to be no computer rankings or simulations used in the selection.  Why?  Because that darn old computer might actually contradict what the human element wants.  Who are you going to believe, a bunch of transistors and chips or your own lying eyes?  Last year, the computers would have had a LSU-Oklahoma State championship game because the simulations had OK State as the 2nd best team in the country, even though they lost a 2OT game at Iowa State and Alabama lost at home to LSU.

The thought that you can go undefeated, win you conference and still not make the playoff is stuff that stupid plans are made of.  This means that the Cinderella element is almost nonexistent.  Tell me that an undefeated Cincinnati out of the Big East has a shot at the playoffs if Alabama is undefeated, LSU loses one game, to Alabama, USC goes undefeated, and Ohio State loses once and that is an overtime loss to Michigan.  You can't because the human element is going to say that the Big East is a weaker conference and that the one loss teams from the Big 10 and SEC are just better.  Do you remember the saying, "that to error is human"?  Well, that is the case in college football.

That brings me to the point that even if you are the conference champion of the Big 10, Pac-12, or Big 12, you don't have a 100% guaranteed seat at this dance.  That is a good thing since only 4 teams qualify, but it isn't because of the quality of the team.  Yes, I will let my anti-SEC bias show through.  It is because every college football writer in the South will be pumping up those SEC teams.  And before you know it, you are going to have 3 years of 2 SEC teams qualifying because of the pro-SEC bias out in the country.  And people will be arguing about how it is so unfair.  The same people right now that have no problem with this system.

Basically, what the BCS has done is given you 10 years of a crap sandwich.  You still rely on BS rankings and polls.  You have strength of schedule put in to the mix, but not the computer simulations that won't have biases.  The SOS component will cause the Big teams in the power conferences not to schedule those teams of the Mid Majors because of the upset component.  So teams like Boise State won't get a shot to play teams like Florida, Alabama, USC, and others.  You can really forget those teams even considering a game at Boise.  So this sysytem like the BCs will still be heavily weighted towards the power conferences.

Now , I am sure that you are wondering why I am rambling on here.  Well, let me explain why.  I have a concept that would cause major upheaval in college football, but would be the fairest system out there.  And while it would cause major complaints, I would love to see the system.  The NCAA has the power to do this if they wanted, so it would be the system that I would implement if I were Mark Emmert.

I would divide Division I BCS teams into 8 conferences.  That is it.  Here would be the 8:

Atlantic Coast Conference
Big South (Formerly the Big 12)
South Eastern Conference
Pacific Coast Conference
Mountain West Conference
Middle America Conference
Big North (Formerly the Big 10)
The Big East

There are 120 BCS teams in football for 2011 and 123 BCS teams for football in 2012.  The maximum amount of teams that you can have for this model is 144, so only 21 more teams could be allowed.  Anyways, for right now, you get teams evenly distributed into one of the 8 conferences.  The ideal number would be 16, but you could go as high as 18.

Then you divide the 16 teams in each conference into 2 divisions of 8 teams each.  A team in the division plays each other team in the division once and 1 team from the opposite division during the year, so there are 8 conference games.  Each team is free to play 3 or 4 other games during the year against other teams in other conferences. You require that each conference has a championship game.  Each conference champion qualifies for the playoffs and the big money that comes with qualifying.  Let's say that each team gets $80 Million for it's conference.  Imagine that even a lowly school like New Mexico State getting $1 Million for it's football program.  That will infuse it with more money and the possibility that it might improve instead of being a doormat each and every year.  It would also mean that the power conferences would be no more.

Anyways, back to the playoff.  Have the 1st Round played on December 15th.  Each of the 8 conference champions are seeded and follow a traditional playoff format.  1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7 and so on.  The 2nd Round would be played on January 1st, along with the rest of the major bowls.  The Championship Game on January 15th.  You have a true champion without polls, biases, and SOS.

You eliminate a couple of bowl games with this plan.  Because 4 Bowl eligible teams wouldn't be participating since they lost on Dec. 15th.  So the Walnut Bowl might have to blink out of existence, but that is a small price for this goal.  As for the sites for the 1st Round games, you play those at the higher ranked team home field.  For the Bowl games, you rotate between the Sugar, Rose, Cotton, Orange, Fiesta, and a new one that I would hold at the Big House up in Michigan.  Look at what you have in the places that these bowl games are.  One in Miami that more often or not has a downpour.  A dome, 2 hot places, a temperate climate and a northern outside site.  Can you imagine the crying that you would hear coming from an Alabama team predicated on speed if they had to go up to Michigan and play a Boston College team that is more suited to play in a blizzard, instead of BC going down south and playing in the climate that Alabama is used to?  For the title game, that gets bid out each and every year.  I would love to see Pittsburgh win it one year and have the title game at 3 Rivers, or Green Bay hosting the title game at Lambeau Field. 

The great thing about this is that in about 5 years, you will see real parity in the college game and one of the major things that would cause a team to excel even more than now is a great coach.  And the thing is that a great coach like Chris Peterson would get his due and his team would have a chance to win the championship instead of being passed over by sports writers and college football coaches that don't care about anything west of the Mississippi River.    That is what I want to see, every college football team have an equal chance to win with the same players and schemes no matter what their name is or what the history of the school is.  Because right now, the system does not allow that.

No comments: