What a wild, wacky college football season it’s been. The raft of upsetitis has now spread to the top teams. USC is the best team in the country? Whoops, they just lost to Stanford, the dregs of the Pac-10. LSU is the best team? Whoops, they just lost to Kentucky. Now Ohio State is the best team. Maybe that’s good news for Michigan State, who they play this week.
A lot of people say it’s all because of increased parity. If so, that’s a wonderful argument for a playoff. Well, if you want a playoff, here’s what you’re going to have to get for it to be logical: 16 teams. Every conference champion gets a spot, even in the Sun Belt. That leaves five at-large bids. If you’re a good team, you better win your conference championship, or you’re fighting for fewer at-large bids than there are BCS conferences. I’d be willing to consider a 24-team format as well, about one-third the size of the NCAA Basketball tournament, which scales about right. That has the added bonus of increased competition at the top to nab one of the eight byes, as well as allowing us to preserve most of the existing bowls while adding some logic and order to it as well.
At the end of the season, I’m going to simulate a playoff format like this, using the following criteria. I seed the field 1-16 and assign each pod of four to a BCS bowl site for the second round. The first round will be held at higher-seed home sites, and the last two rounds will be held at whatever site the real-life BCS Championship Game is being held.
I seed the field and choose the at-larges using the same criteria the NCAA uses to pick its basketball tournament. For my purposes, that is: pure record, RPI, record in conference and out, road record, record in last 5 games, and individual RPI ranking, and status in playoff, of all teams played. I don’t weight the RPI the way the NCAA does for home and road and I choose the at-larges before seeding anyone. I also don’t use the BCS, my college football rankings, or any poll.
Once I have that down, I’ll start the simulated playoff. I determine who moves on based on polling visitors to Da Blog, despite having a piss-poor track record of people actually voting in my polls.
One downside to a playoff: It loses a lot of the justification for the I-A/I-AA split to exist. Just look at the Orwellian names the NCAA gave them: the existence of a playoff or not is the whole basis for the divisions’ identity.
The college football rankings will be here shortly. The lineal titles will also be updated to reflect the Kentucky upset.