At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
This is a well-written summary of what most on this board believe, but in a forum intended for a broader audience.
Title says it all. No details as of yet, and still needs approval from university Presidents.
DoubleB and I were/are engaged in a spirited debate under Brian's post regarding the home site concept being dead. Our debate is about whether or not to require entrants in the national title game to win their conference.
I believe the conference championship requirement is an important one for fairness and for preservation of the regular season. If you take a straight top four, you render many of the best regular season games (like Alabama-LSU last year, Michigan-Ohio State in 2006, USC-Notre Dame in 2005, etc) meaningless. Instead of being the biggest moments of the season, they are the least important. That, to me, is a crime against college football, where the regular season is more exciting than the playoffs of most sports.
DoubleB has made some good points against that idea, but he inadvertently introduced a piece of evidence that completely destroys the position: The 2008 college football season.
Here is the final BCS top ten from 2008:
1. Oklahoma (11-1)
2. Florida (11-1)
3. Texas (11-1)
4. Alabama (12-1)
5. USC (11-1)
6. Utah (12-0)
7. Texas Tech (11-1)
8. Penn State (11-1)
9. Boise State (12-0)
10. Ohio State (10-2) Terrell Who?
The final tallies of the AP and Harris polls had the same top four; the coaches poll ranked USC ahead of Alabama.
A four-team playoff constructed using BCS ranking criteria, taking the top four teams only, would give us a semi-final round featuring only Big 12 and SEC teams. It would probably look like this:
#1 Oklahoma vs. #4 Alabama
#2 Florida vs. #3 Texas
This would be met with cries of injustice, bias, and corruption. And the first two critiques would be spot on. In this scenario USC and Utah are left out in the cold so that the "cool" conferences can get their second members. The problem is that the rankings here are just plain wrong. How do we know?
2008 is a classic example of poll bias; pundits that know about as much as you and me watch football, think they know who looks good and who doesn't, and fill out polls that reflect their opinions. In 2008 everybody believed that the Big 12 and the SEC were the two best conferences. There seemed to be no question about it.
And everybody was wrong.
Now it may be that Florida was the best team in the country, but it's impossible to know for sure--Utah beat Alabama more convincingly than Florida did, and USC was absolutely unstoppable by the end of the season, as they were every year at the height of the Pete Carroll era. Unfortunately, we never saw the USC dynasty play a top SEC team during the mid-'00s. They did humiliate Auburn at home in 2003, but that Auburn team was a serious disappointment.
For all we know, USC was the best team in the country that year. Their only loss was early, on the road, to a talented Oregon State team; the next week they beat Oregon 44-10 in a game nobody noticed at the time, but looks a lot better now that we see that Chip Kelly was (as OC at the time) building Oregon into a powerhouse. This is the USC team that crushed Ohio State in Los Angeles 35-3; Texas needed every minute of the Fiesta Bowl to escape the same team. They defeated Penn State handily in the Rose Bowl. They were very good.
In the other direction, the Big 12 was already well on its way to becoming the defense-free league that nobody respected when Oklahoma State was begging for a Championship Game bid. It was a lot weaker than anybody wanted to believe, because they didn't have all the information.
And, of course, nobody believed Utah was good because they didn't even play in a "major" conference. No way they'd be able to handle the Big, Bad SEC.
Here's why it matters: There is no way to fairly rank teams based only on results, because there simply aren't enough results in a season where each team plays four non-conference games. There are biases that are present in the mind of every selector, every voter, every pundit.
Right now, for example, everybody believes that the SEC is far and away the top league; that may be right now, but it's not necessarily always true. And as much as they believe that, they have looked down on the Big Ten for decades. Even seasons when the B1G demonstrates its superiority on the field (1999, 2002) the story is buried because it doesn't fit in with current biases.
By requiring entrants to be conference champions, you help insure against those biases by preventing a love affair from a single conference from infecting the selection.
Would it work? Any time you test a theory like this, it's useful to apply it to past seasons to see how they would resolve. Let's apply it to the final 2008 standings and see what we get. Teams are selected based on ranking with teams that aren't conference champions disqualified:
1. Oklahoma (11-1)
2. Florida (11-1)
3. Texas (11-1)
4. Alabama (11-1)
5. USC (11-1)
6. Utah (12-0)
For a final seeding of:
That's much better. Fair. Just. Accurate. Compelling.
DoubleB adeptly provided a counterexample to the conference champion argument, that if LSU lost to Georgia in the SEC championship last season it's possible that neither of the best teams would be in the playoff. That is a legitimate criticism, but to fix the problem the SEC needs only to reform its championship structure to eliminate divisions and allow Bama and LSU to play each other. Alternatively, a compromise is available: Exchange the "Conference Champion" requirement for a "One team per conference" rule. That rule would preserve 2008 as I have adjusted it.
Verdict: In a four-team playoff, only conference champions should be admitted; or, at the least, only one team per conference.
Basically it states the best thing about college football is the rose bowl, and a playoff system would make it less special
Why not just play for the B1G championship then go play against the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl? What does UofM really lose?
Ok, so this has been bouncing around my head while I was cleaning up the fallen branches from the recent snowfall. I'm not going to say anything too wild and crazy here (down with the BCS), but maybe I'll say it in a different way.
Conference championship games: EPIC FAIL
First of all, conference championship games are highly overrated, especially when they are rematches. Ideally, the conf champ game should decide who the champ is for the conference (regardless of which team wins). However, this is rarely the case, and when there is a rematch, this game will often muddy the waters even more. As an example, let's take a look at the championship games this season to see if this ever happens:
MAC: NIU vs. the Bobcats. Both teams were 9-3, but NIU was 7-1 in the league, while the Bobcats were 6-2. Toledo muddies the situation because they were also 7-1 in the league (but 8-4 overall). It seems like Toledo could have an argument for being the "best" in the conference if the Bobcats had won. Championship game FAIL.
Pac 10: Oregon vs. UCLA. What a joke! Obviously this FAILs. But let's pretend that USC was bowl elgible, an Oregon vs. USC game still doesn't work because of Stanford. Championship game FAIL.
Conference USA: Houston (12-0, 8-0) vs. Southern Miss (10-2, 6-2). Here, they had a clear cut champion, who ended up losing. And let's also note that Tulsa was 8-4 (7-1)...so in effect they played a game between the #1 and #3 teams for this one...and the #3 team won. Championship game FAIL.
SEC: The well known case of LSU (12-0, 8-0) vs Georgia (10-2, 7-1). Raise your hand if you think that Georgia winning that game meant that they were the best team in the SEC...anyone...Bueller? Right, me neither. So why did they play this sham of a game? Because they couldn't play...
SEC championship (part 2): This will be LSU vs Alabama in a game that should be televised on Jefferson Pilot. Alabama LOST. At HOME. They couldn't even win their DIVISION, much less their CONFERENCE. The result should be different in the superdome? Even if Alabama wins, who should the champ be? 13-1 LSU or 12-1 Alabama? The word of the day is specious (link provided for any SEC fans who got lost here). SEC championship DOUBLE FAIL.
ACC championship: Virginia Tech (11-1, 7-1) vs. Clemson (9-3, 6-2). At least they got the best two teams in the league for this one. But, in my opinion, this league again had a clear cut champion. For this one, it could be argued both ways: VT still has a better overall record, but Clemson beat VT twice, and these two teams were the class of the league. I'll give this one a PUSH
BIG championship: Sparty (10-2, 7-1) vs. Bucky (10-2, 6-2). Here we had a clear cut champ. And if Sparty had pulled it off, I wouldn't have any qualms about calling little bro the conference champ. But they didn't. And now, who should be the champ? Should Sparty? I mean they split the season series, and both games were competitive. And let's not ignore Michigan and Penn State--both 6-2 in the league and having an equal number of losses as MSU and UW. Championship game FAIL.
So by my estimation, championship games are 0-6-1 this season. (The SEC gets the -2 because of the double fail...no relevant championship game, and forcing a MNC game that means nothing!) Conference championships: Defend your existance
Fixing the BCS:
Moreover, we have another problem. Oftentimes, the conference championship game loser gets punished because they played an extra game against a high quality opponent. In all of the AQ conferences the championship game loser could have easily been bumped from a BCS game. Join me in "maximum chaos world."
Oregon loses to UCLA. UCLA goes to the Rose Bowl and Stanford still gets a BCS bid. Oregon plays in the nobodycares.com bowl.
Georgia beats LSU. Georgia and Alabama get BCS games. LSU gets the Capital One Bowl.
UW beats MSU...MSU gets Outback Bowl (not even the Citrus...)
MSU beats UW...we can probably assume the same. (or maybe UW gets the citrus over Nebraska, who they pummeled).
VT beats Clemson...Clemson joins Oregon in the nobodycares.com bowl.
Clemson beats VT...If Boise State and/or Houston had stayed undefeated VT probably doesn't make it because of the autobids.
We replay the 2006 season in 2011. UM and OSU both get to the game undefeated. This also sets the schedule for the championship. OSU wins game 1 at home, Michigan wins game 2 in Indy. IIRC, Wisconsin was ~#5 in the polls that year. OSU falls below UW and UM and UW go to a BCS game.
Flip that scenario (UM wins game 1, OSU wins game 2, UW/PSU/Neb/MSU/Iowa is sitting at 4 or 5 right behind #1/2 UM/OSU). Now Michigan gets the Capital One Bowl.
To make the BCS have some semblance of logic, and to be consistent with their own mantra (each game matters), they need three rules.
- The national championship must be between two teams who won their conference. [Otherwise LSU v. Alabama part 1 didn't matter]
- In order to qualify for the BCS from a conference with a championship game, you must play in the championship game (i.e. you must win your division). In order to make it from an AQ conference with no championship game, you must be #1 or #2 in your league. (Less important because of ties and other clusterf-y things at the top of some conferences.) [Otherwise winning your division/finishing ahead of someone in your conference standings doesn't matter]
- Any championship game loser must not be punished in the BCS standings by playing a CG. If they qualified before the CG (from an AQ conference), they should stay qualified. [Otherwise you get punished for playing a game rather than a tomato can.]
I realize that these rules put a torch to the BCS games that they've got, and it would leave out a number of heavy hitters from this season's BCS (Michigan, Alabama, Stanford)--but then Boise State likes this just fine thanks. I know it's not perfect, but the BCS is inherently flawed. That is why we need:
A playoff system
First off, I don't care about the bowl system, as it is so lovingly called right now. We have way too many bowl games, and too many of them already are untenable, especially for teams that don't travel well. Colleges need to learn to say "no" to ticket guarantees and force these games to justify their own existence. If the whodafcares.com bowl was no longer in existence it would be just one less game that I don't watch.
Secondly, as Brian said:
Let's go back to first principles. What is the point of a playoff? Most soccer leagues across the globe play a balanced schedule and eschew the playoffs entirely. The season determines the champion. To them, the American way of doing things is stupid. And when you've set up your league such that everyone plays everyone else home and away, it is. Around here, however, there are very big leagues where balanced schedules are impossible and at the end of the regular season you're not quite sure who the best team is. So it makes sense to have the teams that you think might be the best team play each other.
All I've really done so far is extend this same argument:
Playoffs are assets when both of the following criteria are met:
- The regular season is insufficient to determine a best team.
- The winner of the playoff can reasonably claim to be the best team.
to conference championship games. I'm not going to make another bracket here, but I think if we eliminate conference championship games, we could add one more round to Brian's playoff proposal since we have one more week to play with. At this point, any idea is better than the BCS, right?
Athletic directors of the newly expanded Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences found consensus on a "plus-one" football national-championship proposal at meetings early this week that could signal movement toward a revamped Bowl Championship Series. [Link]
This is significant, because the Big Ten and Pac-12 have always staunchly opposed any kind of playoff, even one as limited as this. Although the details could change, some version of it will surely be implemented, if the two conferences remain in favor. It probably would have happened long ago, if they hadn’t been so adamant in their opposition.
Under the proposal, the top four teams in the BCS standings would be seeded into “semi-final” games, which the BCS bowls would host on a rotating basis. A championship game would be played the following week. January 2015 is apparently the earliest it could happen, when the BCS will have a new TV contract.
The Rose Bowl would be part of the championship rotation, but it would not host semi-finial games, so that it could continue its tradition of hosting a Big Ten team vs. a Pac-12 team. It is not clear how this would work, however, as in most years at least one of the two conferences would have a team rated high enough to make the semi-final. It is hard to imagine the Rose Bowl signing up permanently for a match-up of second-bests.
This is the next logical step for college football, bearing in mind that the athletic directors and presidents remain opposed to a full-bore NFL-style playoff. It’s also a system that would eliminate the worst inequities of the BCS, such as the years when there are three major-conference undefeated teams, and a formula decides which one to eliminate. It is the rare year that there are more than four teams with a legitimate claim that they belong in the championship game.
Obviously, no matter how big your playoff, somebody gets left behind. The NCAA basketball tournament admits 68 teams, and there is always a 69th on the bubble. But a “plus one” system is more than good enough to handle the situation we have today, where a USC or Auburn rips through the regular season undefeated, and then inexplicably doesn’t even get to contest the championship.