Saturday, June 10, 2006


These questions have been pulled from the comments sections, have been asked elsewhere, or have been thought of by me. Ask 'em and I'll try to answer 'em.

Q: Referring to your "Modified Season", isn't having so few non-conference games in September and October (1 per team) going to make it harder to compare conferences?

A: Ah, conference strength. One of the most debated topics in college football. In looking at the system there will still be over 100 non-conference games in September and October, more than enough for the computers to use and a decent number for pollsters to make a rough estimate of conference strength. We'll know that a Big10 that's 9-0 or 8-1 against other conferences is probably stronger than a 4-5 or 3-6 WAC. And all we need in those first two months is a rough estimate, since in November the strong teams play each other and the weaks teams play each other, giving us an even better idea of relative conference strength. At the end of the season it will result a more accurate measure of conference strength than the current format. Also, being able to only estimate conference strength in October might alleviate some of the blatant conference biases and would allow for a more balanced November schedule with more non-BCS conference teams making it into the top 32.

Q: How would the money work in tMS? There's no way the big whigs would buy into a modified season if it didn't guarantee them $$$

A:True. Money is one of the big issues, as we all know (and as I talked a bit about here.) I won't claim to know all the ins and outs of college football's finances, but it seems to be that this system could bring in just as much money as the current one if not more.

The questioner points out that no big school would buy into a system which didn't guarantee them as much money as they're making now, which I would fully agree with. As a generalization, right now the big schools make big dough by having home games, and little schools get decent size payoffs by playing at the big schools. The thing about the Modified System is that it maximizes its revenue potential by granting more home games to the teams which bring in the most money.

Right now, big schools usually have either 7 or 8 home games. In tMS, they could have at least 5 of those in September and October: 4 home conference games and 1 home non-conference game. In November, home games are awarded by attendance ranking and victories, so many of the best teams will have 3 or 4 more home games, bringing their total to 8 or 9. So most teams will have as many home games as they do now, if not 1 or 2 more.

In addition, their opponents would be much higher caliber, guaranteeing more demand for tickets. Only die hard fans want to see Georgia vs. Western Carolina. Georgia vs. USC, Texas Tech, and Virginia Tech would sell out in a matter of hours.

There's two "X" factors though. First, the conferences could renegotiate for a sweeter TV deal. With the top-tier matchups in November, ratings would probably go up (maybe not much, but who knows). Or the NCAA could negotiate as a whole. Either way, there would probably be more money coming in from TV and advertising. Second, all of the other college football playoffs (Division I-AA, II, & III) have clauses (found here) in their post-season rulebooks which state that in order for a school to be able to host post-season games, they have to be able to guarantee a certain number of fans and a certain amount of revenue. This type of statement could be used as a buffer by the Official Committee to insure that November games are held at the most profitable locations so that all teams (including "those-who-must-be-kept-happy") profit.

Even though the scheduling issue would be daunting, the financial payoff has huge possibilities, enough to make it worth the trouble.

Q: Where is the dividing line, or cut-off, where a team can possibly make it into the National Championship game? There's something slightly unappealing about the fact that group A games are often between one or even two teams which are 'out of it'.

A: These questions/points were raised by a commenter, and they're good ones. I'll try to break it down and explain as best I can.

First off, I'll say that the goal of the Modified System is to pair the two best teams from the regular season in the National Championship game. This is the exact same goal that the BCS currently has. The difference is that tMS sets up a logical way to identify which two teams are the best, while the BCS, well, doesn't. So our main concern will always be with Group A and pairing the most successful teams together. All of the other matchups are just icing on the cake (or not, depending on your take.)

The easy answer to where the cut-off line lies is that it depends on the number of upsets. The more the higher ranked teams fall, the more of a chance the lower ranked teams have of moving up. Let's work backwards, understanding that pollsters and computers rarely move teams more than 4-6 spots in a given week at the end of the season, possibly less since all of the competition at this level is solid. So in order to be top 4 by week 5, you'd have to be top 8 by week 4, top 12 by week 3, and probably top 16 in week 2, the starting week. So the cut-off seems to be around #16, halfway through Group A, but again, this depends on how the teams in front of you do. (If you're all the way back at #16 though, you're gonna need a lot of losses in front of you to move up all the necessary spots. If teams in front of you win you won't move, while if they lose you'll probably move up.)

So in order to be in the NC game, you'd definitely have to be in the top 4 in Week 5 and then win your #1 vs #4 or #2 vs #3 matchup. In order to do that, you'd pretty much have to be in the top 8 by week 4, but even at #8 it'd be tough to get in. The commenter wondered what would happen if in Week 4...
#8 beats #1
#2 beats #7
#3 beats #6
#4 beats #5
It's a great example to use. #2, #3, & #4 move up to #1, #2, & #3, so who's #4? Is it the previous #8 or previous #1? This gets to the crux of the issue, and the answer is that the voters (and computers) will have to decide that.

First off, there's going to be more variables than just #8 defeated #1. What was the score? Was it close? What are the teams records? These are all questions the voters (and computers) need to take into account when they make their rankings. Will there be controversy, no matter who gets chosen? Yes. (There's no way to completely eliminate the controversies that arise in college football. But I'd rather deal with this minor one than, say, in a single-elimination playoff where a #2 ranked 9-0 team might get knocked off by a #31 ranked 5-4 team and be done. At least with the Modified Season the regular season still counts.)

Q: Why the whole "32->16->8->4" setup? The 1/2 cutoff each week makes it tough for cinderellas to 'win their way up'. Suppose the system was slightly modified so the size of Group A didn't go down by 1/2 every week. What if it went like: 24->14->8->4?

A: I think there's positives and negatives to both of these setups. I guess it comes down to which one gives the most opportunity to the most teams, and in thinking about it, they both seem about equal. You've gotta be in the top 4 at the end of week 5 in both, and in the top 8 at the end of the week 4 (see the above question). Would a team have a better chance of moving up to the top 8 in a 32->16->8 setup or a 24->14->8 setup? They seem pretty equal to me at a glance.

In terms of appearances, I think the 32->16->8->4 system resembles a traditional playoff more, which I think people would find appealing and more understandable.

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