Sunday, December 6, 2009

Four Other Systems: 2009

Alright, so now that the final BCS standings are out, let's see how some of the other proposed playoff systems would fare. We'll be looking at 1) a plus-one with bowl results, 2) a plus-one from the BCS results, 3) an eight-team playoff with BCS conference champions automatically included, and 4) an eight-team playoff with just the top 8 teams.

Here's the rundown from the past eleven years. As you can see, no system comes out that well at all, even when compared to the much-hated BCS. Let's see if they'd do any better this year...

2009 Final BCS Standings Conference Champs Relevant Bowls
1. Alabama (13-0)
2. Texas (13-0)
3. Cincinnati (12-0)
4. TCU (12-0)
5. Florida (12-1)
6. Boise State (13-0)
7. Oregon (10-2)
8. Ohio State (10-2)
9. Georgia Tech (11-1)
10. Iowa (10-2)
11. Penn State (10-2)
12. Virginia Tech (9-3)
ACC: Georgia Tech
Big10: Ohio State
Big12: Texas
BigEast: Cincinnati
Pac10: Oregon
SEC: Alabama
National Champ: #1 Alabama v #2 Texas
Fiesta: #4 TCU v #6 Boise State
Rose: #8 Ohio State v #7 Oregon
Sugar: #5 Florida v #3 Cincinnati
Orange: #9 Georgia Tech vs #10 Iowa

Plus-One Possibilities - w/ Bowl Results:
Alabama/Texas winner, TCU/Boise State winner, Cincinnati/Florida winner
We're going to have at least two undefeated teams at the end of the season, the winners of the title game & the Fiesta bowl. But the winner of the Sugar bowl also will have a case, especially if it's Cincinnati who will also be undefeated. It's also possible (I'd even say probable) that Florida could squeak into the plus-one title game with a Sugar Bowl win, probably jumping the Fiesta Bowl winner and setting up a rematch with Alabama. That would be uuuuuugly.

Plus-One Possibilities - Top 4:
#1 Alabama v #4 TCU, #2 Texas v #3 Cincinnati
The obvious problem here is that undefeated Boise State is still left out.

Eight-Team Playoff Possibilities - Conf Champs:
If you take the conf champs, you've got #1 Alabama, #2 Texas, #3 Cincinnati, #7 Oregon, #8 Ohio State, and #9 Georgia Tech. The two at-large would be between #4 TCU, #5 Florida, and #6 Boise State. One of those teams is getting left out.

Eight-Team Playoff Possibilities - Top 8:
If you just take the top eight in the BCS rankings, #9 Georgia Tech, the champion of the ACC would be left out and up in arms.

So while both of the eight-team setups are better than in years past, in both situations at least one conference champion or undefeated team is going to be left out. The Plus-ones don't work that well either, leaving out deserving teams as well.

This edition of the BCS is a lot like two previous editions - a lot of people thought in September that the matchup would be Texas & Alabama/Florida, ala USC & Texas 2005, and that's the way it worked out. But you also have three other undefeated teams in there, ala 2004. I'd say this one falls somewhere in between those two - of course it's not as perfect as the Trojan-Longhorn matchup, but it's not nearly as bad as the 2004 debacle. It's also much less controversial than the last three years too. So at least that's something.


PeteP said...

Anything is better than this disaster.

And you forgot the best two systems -- a 12 or 16 team playoff.

As is, the BCS showed that it will protect the SEC and Big Ten from shame of losing to TCU or BSU. Pretty weak....

Jams said...

I think you forget that in '04, Oklahoma-USC was pretty much penciled into the title game in September, too. They went wire-to-wire as #1 and #2 that year. I really think this year should be generating the kind of uproar there was about that year, and perhaps even more. Recall that in 2004 there weren't many out there claiming Utah deserved a shot at the championship, only Auburn. This year TCU has a legit argument, as does Cincinnati.

Ed Gunther said...

Hey there guys, you bring up good points. The reason I haven't ever included 12 or 16 team playoffs is mainly because realistically, the only way college football will move to that type of post-season is if they try a smaller playoff first. (I don't think we'll ever see a 12 or 16, but I suppose it is possible). That's partly because the divide between an 8-team and a 12 or 16-team is that you can do an 8-team in three weekends, while the others would take four. That might not seem like much, but it's a big sticking point when you bring in all of the other factors involved.

Yeah, I'll watch Boise State vs TCU, but matching those two up with other conferences would've been better, I agree.

The main difference I was trying to get at between this year and 2004 was that Auburn had probably the most legitimate argument for inclusion, much more so than any team this year, I'd imagine. Even though conferences weren't as much of a consideration then, there was still a whole lot more outcry for Auburn than there is this year for TCU or Cincy. (I'd even argue that the Auburn debacle was one of the major driving forces behind the rise of the conferences...) Part of the reason there's less disgruntledness I think is because Auburn was seen as on par with Oklahoma and USC, while this year people have elevated Alabama and Texas above the other undefeateds.

PeteP said...

Utah was a very legit team in 2004 as well. I think that Ute team could have played with anyone, especially with Urban as the coach. Given that, there were 2 very deserving teams left out that year (Boise was also undefeated, but did not yet have the national respect).

As to the 12 or 16 team playoff, it is very simple.

1st, cut the season back to 11 games.

2nd, first round as home games for the higher seeded teams --- 1st week in December.

3rd, first round losers still eligible for bowl games.

4th, second round as home games for higher seeded teams, 2nd week of December.

5th, National Semi-Final at major bowl sites on New Year's Day, making New Year's Day great again.

6th, National Championship game 1 week later just like now.

Having the first two rounds as home games would result in a huge revenue boost to these teams.

The TV ratings would be awesome on every single game --- each one would be like a conference championship game.

You could include every conference champion -- although I feel we need to streamline the FBS and raise the requirements to maintain membership -- 40K stadium and 30K average attendance to start. We would likely end up with only 8 or 9 conferences then. But that is a very different issue.....

dethwing said...

My opinion has always been to take the top 4 conference champions. This:
1. Keeps it small, and makes it easy to use the bowl games and keep them the consolation games they are right now. Semifinal losers could play in regular bowl game.
2. Makes the regular season important. Florida/Bama might not have been as interesting if both knew they would stay in the top 4. But keeping it conference champions only forces them to play to win.
3. Yes, #5 is going to complain. (In this case, Boise State) But isn't one complaint better than 3?

And of course the biggest problem:
Make the damn BCS rankings 50/50 subjective/objective. This human controlled stuff is pathetic.

Ed Gunther said...

Yeah, I gotta say I've always been intrigued by the top 4 conference champions setup. I think that it's pretty much become an unofficial rule that the title game is now conference champions only, and matching up multiple conference champs would go a long way toward separating the teams at the top.

Anonymous said...

And I always mention the biggest knock on any 'conference champions only' playoff proposal -- it doesn't deal well with ties (which are extremely likely in the Big Ten; half of the Big Ten championships since Penn State joined in 1993 have been shared) or independents (there's a remote chance ND -- or even Navy or Army -- could be good enough to matter again at some point).

Morgan Wick said...

Pete pretty much has the national championship format I would use, except I might make use of Christmas as well. Realistically, when I simulate an 16 team playoff every year I hold the quarterfinals at Christmas. There's a problem when games have to be scheduled around finals, and pushing back the season means either getting rid of the conference championship games or holding them at Thanksgiving, currently populated with rivalry games. You're not getting rid of conference championship games without rearranging the conferences, which is pretty much not gonna happen.

That's why it's going to be slow getting a 12- or 16-team format, which is sad because if we start with a plus-one or 8-teamer and expand later, it'll establish too much momentum and precedent for expansion and it'll become grotesque. If we just establish a 12- or 16-team system at the start and say "that's it" it'll be easier to see the elegance of the system, and harder to expand. March Madness has been 64 or 65 teams for, what, 25 years now? and there's STILL pressure to expand to grotesque proportions.