Sunday, December 03, 2006

CFB Debate of the Year: Florida or Michigan?
(330-Plus Comments and Counting...)

Update: Coaches poll is out. Florida is No. 2, Michigan is No. 3. In an interesting note, Jim Tressel asked to abstain, which I think is completely fraudulent. Don't accept the privilege of affecting the sport, week-in and week-out, then cop out in the one week when it matters most. I hope he's never allowed to participate in the coaches' poll again.

ORIGINAL POST: I'm hesitant to start a new post about the Michigan-Florida debate, because the post from Saturday has generated more than 330 contributions, shattering the previous total and making it the most commented-on post ever for this blog. (I highly recommend scrolling down and checking it out.)

But it's a new day, and everyone has had a chance to sleep on the decision: Florida or Michigan?

If you were a voter, who would YOU rank No. 2? What SHOULD they do? What's fair? What's right? What's best for college football? What's best to determine the right team to play for this year's title?

There is a particularly compelling angle: Should "Michigan had their chance" be considered a legitimate argument for Florida? If you think Michigan is the unquestioned No. 2 team in the country, probably not. But they're not, and I think "had their chance" isn't nearly as illegitimate as some might be arguing.

(I wonder if Kirk Herbstreit - who made the most impassioned and high-profile plea against the "had their chance" argument last night -- would be saying the same thing if, hypothetically, Florida was unbeaten, and Ohio State was a 1-loss Big Ten champ vying for a spot in the national title game versus 1-loss LSU, runner-up in the SEC and a team Florida had already beaten.)

The other thing Michigan backers are saying -- including Lloyd Carr -- is that Michigan shouldn't be penalized for not playing the last two weeks. I think that's bogus. That would mean that your biggest ranking criteria is "inertia."

There is no evidence that Michigan is anything but the same team that ended the season two weeks ago. However, since then, there is new evidence that Florida should be considered and weighted better than they were two weeks ago.

In other words, forget the number of the ranking next to Michigan's name two weeks ago or last week. With the entire body of work from the season now in place for both teams, has Florida proven itself better than Michigan -- or more worthy to play Ohio State for the title? I argue yes.

Here's the best news for BCS-haters: It's the best-case scenario to trigger some kind of change to the system. (But don't hold your breath. And don't expect a playoff to fix the type of controversy we're having now: Picking one team over another -- whether it's "Who's Number 2?" today or "Which team coming out of four bowls should be in the Plus-One title game?" or "Who's snubbed in a 4- or 8-team playoff?" there will always be controversy.)

Anyway, I digress: Michigan or Florida?

(By the way, there's a very easy way to deliver justice: Provided that the team picked for the BCS title game beats Ohio State -- iffy on so many levels -- and the team snubbed for the title game wins its bowl game, the AP can simply vote to award its share of the title to the snubbed team, like they did with USC following the 2003 season.)

Oh, and one more thing: As mentioned on the comment board below, it's going to be absolutely fascinating to see how the various Harris poll and coaches' poll (and even the AP poll, though that doesn't count toward the BCS) voters did their ballots. Who has which team number 2? (And are there any shenanigans where they don't rank Michigan and Florida in some combo at No. 2 and No. 3? Any other pick should obliterate that voter's future as a pollster.) I would imagine that there will be great incentive for rogue pollsters -- Harris poll, probably -- to vote some crazy stuff if only to make themselves the story. I cannot wait to see the data.


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Biff said...

In fact, since they addition of the 5th bowl game, the "second tier" conferences got together and agreed to split the money regardless of which conference gets the "at-large" bid. They won't divulge the amount, but because Boise State made it, the MWC gets a small cut. We're left fighting for the scraps, literally.

ChrTh said...

So with the BCS ranking between Florida and Michigan only thousandths of point difference, would Tressel's non-vote have made a difference?

It was a hundredth of a point difference, and the answer (after doing the math) is No.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I was wondering the same thing. Truth is, he probably would have tied Florida and Michigan at #2, he just didn't realize he could. So it's probably inconsequential.

Biff said...

@benvious & chrth

Thanks. Good to know it wouldn't have mattered. The funny thing is that since the computer polls ranked them dead evening, the whole thing still came down to the human element. I thought the BC$ was supposed to eliminate that. Anyways, bring on the 16-team playoff.... please.

Benvious said...

Here's a thought...

Given how the bowls are matching up, and that Wisconsin got hosed...

OSU beats Florida (likely)
Michigan beats USC (likely)
ND beats LSU (god I hope not)
Wisconsin beats Arkansas (coinflip)

Under this scenario, the Big Ten would end the season with the #1, 2,and 3 teams in the country.

Would the SEC still be the best conference then?

Dave Rothgery said...

I didn't want to see ND in the BCS either, but given the options, it was pretty obvious they'd be selected. The two at-large bids available after all autobids were handed out (BCS conference winners, Boise for wining the WAC and finishing in the top 12, Michigan for finishing #3) had to go to teams with at least 9 wins and in the BCS top 14, but no conference can get more than two teams in the BCS. So Wisconsin was ineligible, and only one of the SEC teams that qualified (LSU, Auburn, and Arkansas) could be selected. After the Sugar took LSU, the final at-large bid had to go to either BCS #11 Notre Dame or BCS #13 West Virginia. I'd've taken the Moutnaineers, but I can't really fault the Sugar Bowl for taking the Irish instead. Now, if Rutgers had beat West Virginia (and the game went to 2OT) and claimed the Big East autobid, then the Sugar would have been passing on #6 Louisville in favor of #11 Notre Dame, and that would be a different story entirely.

Brian - Beacon, NY said...
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Brian - Beacon, NY said...

Fair point Dave. Then the rules should be changed and more than 2 teams per conference should be allowed in BCS bowls. It's not like all the teams in every conference play each other anyway, so I don't see why a conference can't get more than 2 teams in. Who thinks Notre Dame is better than Auburn or Arkansas? Anyone?

Andy said...

Who knows if ND is better than Arkansas, but they lost 3 games playing a statistically inferior schedule, so you can't say they deserved to go to the BCS over ND, rule or no rule.

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