Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Now, About That BCS Playoff System
(Why a 4-Team, "Plus-One" Won't Work)


See earlier posts:
My Final CFB Top 10! (Scandal!)
Tuesday Quickie: Gator Mania!

CFB Playoff in the future? The SEC commish and BCS coordinator Mike Slive says he's open to a four-team playoff that results in a "Plus-One" title game. However, this year serves as a cautionary tale:

Which four teams would you have picked to be in this so-called playoff that determines the champion "on the field?" Ohio State, obviously. Florida. Then who: Michigan? LSU?

See, in hindsight, looking at Michigan's final AP ranking (8th), it is ludicrous to think that they would have deserved to be in a four-team playoff. Not just deserved to be, but a LOCK -- the 3-seed! After the bowls, the more accurate answer for those other two teams are LSU and USC, but even then: What about Boise, who finished 5th, a mere handful of poll points behind USC and with a vastly better record against the only common opponent Boise and USC shared?

Here's my point: A four-team playoff doesn't solve the problems. Not when the No. 5 team is as worthy as any of the two ahead of them in any given 4-team field. Not when picking those 4 teams is so loaded with problems. Let's sum it up with the label "The Michigan Problem."

Michigan's seemingly "obvious" place in a 4-team playoff this year (on Dec. 3) would have screwed either LSU or USC -- the omission of either of which would have been a travesty (not to mention the omission of Boise State).

Simply put: A 4-team playoff* just doesn't solve the basic structural problem with the system. And, as everyone barks for it in the aftermath of the BCS title game, they can't even explain how it would have worked THIS season. At least fairly. Or accurately.

-- D.S.

(* - Even if we had an 8-team playoff this year, it would have been problematic. Start with the assumption that any 8-team field must include the 6 BCS conference champs as automatic bids. You get two "at-large" picks, so tell me which team you're going to screw over: Michigan, LSU or Boise State?

Again, we have a Michigan Problem: On Jan. 9, everyone can agree that Michigan has no business being picked ahead of either LSU or Boise. But on Dec. 3, no one would have listened to you about that.

And, consequently, one very viable team -- a team that turns out to be better than Michigan -- would be left out, while Michigan would have received what we all now know would have been a patently ridiculous 3-seed among the 8 tems.)


Natsfan74 said...

I agree that a four team playoff isn't enough and it isn't going to settle anything. I think that for all of its problems, the BCS is still the best we can hope for.

An 8-16 team playoff is unreasonable to expect. It would be logistically challenging, and it would completely destroy the bowl system which so many other teams would still rely on. One other thing about a tournament is the number of games a team would have to play. That will inevitably favor the bigger schools who have more size, strength, and most importantly depth. I think we would all agree that Boise State was fading fast in the 4th quarter/ OT of the Oklahoma. Heck, they knew it too or they wouldn't have gone for 2 on the very first overtime (I even thought they might at the end of regulation after the way OU moved the ball so effectively in the 4th quarter). Now take that same undersized team that doesn't have the depth of the big boys and make him do it again a week later. If the SEC teams complain about beating themselves up week in and week out, now picture a Cindarella Team trying to run that same gauntlet. Florida had the depth to replace Wynn and Harvin early in the season when they were hobbled. Would BSU be able to replace Johnson as easily? A one and done championship game gives a lot more hope to a non-BCS conference team than a tournament ever would.

Unknown said...

hindsight is always 20/20.
It'd be nice if the games were played closer to the end of the season...or can the season be pushed back a few weeks?

CMFost said...

Only way it works is a 16 team playoff. That is it anything else opens up to much room for conterversy

Tim said...

Even if team 5,6,7, etc.. were left off, wouldn't you feel better with a team that won more then one game to claim the title of national championship?

If Florida beat Michigan and Ohio State in a four team playoff, that would be as convincing of a champ that I have seen...

Anonymous said...

So basically, what we are saying is, there is never going to be a playoff system that works, so why make a playoff system, so why not keep the BCS' imperfect title game scheme as it stands now?

You will NEVER make the loud minority (or silent majority) happy, so stop trying.

Anonymous said...

Hey, OSU got blown out by more and earlier in the game than Michigan did.

Does that mean they don't belong either? Hindsight is 20/20. The fact is, you can get blown out in the postseason, and still have a regular season deserving of that spot. Let's not pretend that the future in any way affects the past.

amr said...

If it were an 8-team playoff this year, the at-large bids surely would have been Mich and ND.

amr said...

Actually, the best way to do this would be for some dudes to look at the standings and polls at the end of the season and determine what the playoff schedule is.

At the end of 2003, you have three majors with one loss: USC, LSU, and Oklahoma. Either throw out Oklahoma because they didn't win their conference, add Michigan or one of these minors: Miami (OH), Boise, Texas Christian. Actually, this would be a good year for a 6 or 8 team tourney.

At the end of 2004, you have four undefeateds. USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, and Utah. There's you're 4-team tourney.

At the end of 2005, it's obviously a two-team, one-game playoff, as there are two undefeateds and both are from Majors.

At the end of 2006, I'm maybe putting Florida, Boise, tOSU, and Louisville in. (Win your major with one loss or less or be an undefeated minor.) YMMV.

Unknown said...

The argument is ridiculous. No matter how many teams are selected for a playoff, there is always some criteria used. If N teams are selected then the N+1st team is always griping. Tough. You have the rest of the season to make sure you qualify. If LSU doesn't like being left off, then they need to win the SEC. If Boise doesn't like being left off, then they need to schedule a couple of kickass opponents.

Even in the NFL, in the case of the 1,000,000:1 shot that 2 teams are tied, they use a coin flip. Can you tell me that the Giants making the playoffs over the other 8-8 teams or KC over the other 9-7 teams is more than just a selection based upon rules that really don't select the best team?

With unconnected 12 game schedules, there is no way to know. Use the current BCS rankings, grab the top 4,8, or 16 and be done with it. The last team out will always bitch about the system not being fair.