What would a college football playoff look like this year?

Oct 21, 2010; Eugene, OR, USA; Fans of the Oregon Ducks cheer during the game against the UCLA Bruins at Autzen Stadium. Photo via Newscom

Last year, I ran a series of posts examining how a college football playoff system might look. I’m getting a late start this year, but it might be for the best since the rankings are more settled.

Here are my assumptions:

1. The six BCS-conference champs get an automatic bid unless they are ranked outside the top 15. There would need to be some sort of ranking system used. For now, we will use the BCS. I’d rather do a straight #1-#8 seeding based on the rankings, but in order for a playoff to get implemented the big conferences would need some preferential treatment. That’s just the way it is and we all know it.

2. If a conference champ is ranked lower than #15 in the rankings, they give up their automatic bid and it becomes an at-large bid. (This rule is to ensure that the regular season keeps its meaning and only the elite teams make the playoffs.)

3. If a conference champ is ranked behind a non-BCS school, and have a head-to-head loss to that team, then they give up their playoff bid to that team. This is the “I Drink Your Milkshake!” rule.

4. Seeds and at-large bids are distributed based on the current BCS standings. Certainly, these rankings need to be tweaked to place more of an emphasis on head-to-head matchups, but they are fine for now. If an at-large team has a better BCS ranking than a conference champion, they will get a higher seed.

5. There will be three rounds of playoffs. The first round will be held at the home stadium of the higher-seeded team. The semifinals and the final will rotate amongst the four BCS cities (Miami, Pasadena, Tempe and New Orleans), so that those cities don’t lose the revenue from the bowl games.

So here is how an eight-team playoff would look at this point…

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Why did the Boise State Broncos finish #4?

One Bronco Nation Under God put together an interesting breakdown of the final AP vote for the 2009-10 college football season.

Why is it interesting? Well, Alabama finished #1, as they should. But it was Texas, not Florida, that finished #2. The Gators finished third and the Broncos finished at #4. The site points out a couple of voters who actually had the Broncos ranked lower than #4:

[Craig] James was far and away the most anti-Boise AP voter of the bunch. Voting Boise State at No. 7 is inexcusable. Voting TCU at No. 14 is just as bad.

The worst part is that the Broncos only finished four points behind Florida in the AP poll. Hmm, where might you find four extra points? If Craig James had voted like a rational human being, the Broncos could have at least got three more points (if James put them at No. 4).

James had Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa ahead of the Broncos. I guess he’s a big fan of the Big Ten.

Then there’s the case of the only other writer in the country to put the Broncos lower than #4 — Kirk Bohls, of Austin, Texas.

He dropped the Broncos below … wait for it … THE Ohio State University. We’ll laugh about this later. I swear we will. Bohls and James were the only ones with OSU in front of BSU. Had Bohls swapped the Broncos and the Buckeyes, Boise State would have picked up an extra AP point and been tied with Florida for No. 3.

In addition to James’ #7 ranking and Bohls’ #5 ranking, 22 voters had the Broncos at #2, six ranked them #3 and 30 voters had Boise State at #4, so it appears that the voters are split into two camps: 1) those that believe that the Broncos belong (ranking them #2 or #3), 2) and those that still don’t think they are as good as one-loss BCS teams like Texas and Florida (ranking them #4 or lower).

The bottom line is that nothing has changed. A Colt McCoy-less Texas squad looked good enough against Alabama to stay at #2, while Florida thrashed a head coach-less Cincy squad in the Sugar Bowl. Boise State played TCU in the Fiesta Bowl, which made for a “fun” (i.e. non-BCS) matchup, but neither team got the opportunity to play against the big boys.

And that’s exactly the way the BCS wanted it. If Boise State and TCU got matchups with BCS schools this bowl seasons and won (or at least made it a game), it would add more fuel to the we-need-a-playoff fire.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Exective director Bill Hancock defends the BCS

Bill Hancock officially began his tenure as BCS executive director this week and spoke with reporters on Thursday about the current state of college football.

Let’s go point by point…

“College football has never been better and I believe the BCS is part of that.”

This is actually a true statement, but it isn’t saying much. If something is better than asinine, does it make it good? No, it doesn’t. It makes it better than asinine. Yes, the BCS Championship Game is better than the pre-BCS system, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be drastically improved.

Hancock said the fact that other lower levels of college football use playoffs to decide their champions doesn’t mean it would work in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The second-tier of Division I football, the Championship Subdivision, has a 16-team playoff with all but the final played at home sites.

“It works at that level, I can’t deny it, but if you look attendance for those games, only Montana had decent attendance,” he said. “Many teams didn’t draw as well as they did in the regular season.”

All right, so because Hancock has some anecdotal data about lower level teams not drawing as well in the playoffs, we’re supposed to believe that home playoff games at the D1 level wouldn’t work either? Really? Like the Gators aren’t going to sell out the Swamp in the first round of an eight-team playoff? Give me a break.

This excerpt from ESPN (via the AP), Hancock throws out several debatable “facts” and says the case is closed.

Bill Hancock said a playoff at college football’s highest level would lead to more injuries, conflict with final exams, kill the bowl system and diminish the importance of the regular season.

More injuries? The current BCS system has five games. My proposed eight-team playoff would include seven games. Does Hancock really believe that the additional injury risk of two games is a valid argument against a playoff?

Kill the bowl system? The current system features a lot of lower-level bowls that feature teams that aren’t playing for a national championship. Players, coaches and fans attend these games as a celebration of a good season. How would holding a playoff affect this system in any way?

Diminish the importance of the regular season? If anything, it would increase the importance of the regular season. Under the current system, if a team loses a game it shouldn’t, it’s championship aspirations are effectively killed. With a playoff, that team would still have a fighting chance to make the postseason and compete for a title. And think about those fringe teams fighting for a playoff spot over the last couple of weeks. Every contest would become an elimination game. Under the current system, none of these teams would have an opportunity to play for a title.

Conflict with final exams? In an eight-team playoff, there are only four D1 teams in the entire country that would play more than one postseason game, and we’re worried about final exams?


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Top 10 reasons why it’s okay that fantasy football season is over

Originally published 12/28/07. Updated 1/6/10.

It’s that time of year again. Much like the post-draft letdown all fantasy owners go through in August or September, the end of the fantasy football season can be a depressing time indeed. I know a lot of baseball fans are already looking forward to spring training and their fantasy baseball drafts, but I’m not a baseball guy, so I need to look elsewhere for comfort. Here are 10 reasons why it’s good that the fantasy football season is finally over. (Seriously, guys, it’s not that bad.)

1. Your busted picks won’t haunt you anymore.
Just think about it: you don’t have to set your lineup for another nine months. No more looking at the injured Michael Turner or the disappointing Brian Westbrook wasting away on your bench. You can add Larry Johnson, Terrell Owens, Marshawn Lynch, Ronnie Brown, Steve Slaton and Matt Forte to that list. All of these guys were early picks that managed to sabotage fantasy seasons to one degree or another. If you only had one of these guys on your team, count yourself lucky. Two or more and your season was probably over before it started.

2. You can start (truly) rooting for your favorite team.
No more fragmented alliances. If you have a favorite team (and who doesn’t?), chances are that at one point or another, you were rooting against them this year. Either your favorite team was playing against a particular player on your fantasy team, or you needed a field goal instead of an extra point from your favorite team’s kicker. At some point, you wanted your team – whose colors you claim to bleed – to fail, somehow or someway. The best thing to do is fess up, ask forgiveness, and cheer as loudly as you can if your team was fortunate enough to make the playoffs.

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Blogging the Bloggers: ESPN in 3-D, NFL flops, Daniel Snyder and more

– AWFUL ANNOUNCING reports that ESPN will be the first to launch a 3-D network, starting this year.

– CAMEL CLUTCH BLOG thinks that Howard Stern’s idea of a Tiger Woods Mistress Beauty Pageant is a great one.

– RUMORS & RANTS lists the biggest flops of the 2009 NFL season.

– ONLINE SPORTS GUYS thinks that Daniel Snyder is the worst owner in NFL history.

– EAST COAST BIAS picks the most annoying fans for each NFL division and is now proceeding through a playoff bracket. (Though the site doesn’t understand why Packer fans would boo Brett Favre, so be warned.)

– SPORTSbyBROOKS has video of an anti-BCS commercial that is going to run in select cities before the BCS title game.

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