Contra Mozilla

Saturday, December 7, 2013

BCS Chaos Scenarios

The BCS--and the playoff which replaces it--is about giving the people what they don't want.

It seems to me that there are several scenarios for the BCS Championship. Actually, both Sports Illustrated and ESPN came up with the same 4 (ESPN had more, however):
  1. OSU and FSU win today and place for the BCS national championship
  2. OSU and FSU win today, but Auburn jumps OSU and so FSU and Aubrun play for the championship.
  3. OSU loses and so FSU plays the winner of Missouri/Auburn for the national champinship
  4. OSU and FSU lose, so Auburn and Alabama stage a rematch of the national championship
Apparently, OSU, FSU, and Auburn all losing isn't a viable outcome, nor is OSU winning but FSU losing. Neither, apparently, is a split championship, between (for example) an undefeated OSU getting left out and a 1-loss Auburn beating FSU. For example: OSU, FSU, and Auburn all win today, but then OSU gets left out and wins the Rose bowl by a lot. Alabama loses it bowl game, and Auburn edges FSU. The voters sheepishly realize that OSU was better than their schedule permitted (the only two games they played even close so far are against 10-2 Wisconsin and rival Michigan), and that Auburn last-second win over Alabama is less impressive than it appeared (all far-fetched, but possible).

So how does this tie into the 4-team play-off? The very strong implication is that in this year, the four teams would be FSU, OSU, Auburn/Mizzou winner, and Alabama.So there are no aggrieved teams under those rules, right?

Wrong. For one, suppose that Oklahoma State and/or Baylor wins today, and in so doing finishes 11-1. "They played a weak schedule." Perhaps, but is it weaker than the schedules of FSU and OSU, or for that matter Missouri (assuming they win)? Oklahoma State will have beaten an 11-1 Baylor team, a 9-3 Oklahoma team, and an 8-4 Texas team which had improved dramatically since its first two losses (after which they replaced their inept defensive coordinator with a rather better one). Ohio State will have beaten an 11-2 MSU squad and a 10-2 Wisconsin team, and an 8-4 Iowa team. FSU will have beaten a 10-3 Duke team, a 10-2 Clemson team, and a decent 9-3 Miami team. Missouri will have beaten an 11-2 Auburn team and a 10-2 South Carolina team, and an 8-4 Texas A&M squad. And are these 1-loss teams all really better than say Stanford or ASU, who have played two of the toughest schedules in the country?

The 4-team playoff is supposed to be better because, supposed, the #5 team isn't quite as deserving as the #3 team to play for a championship. Perhaps, and perhaps not. The actual result will be that the #5 team is ignored (as the #3 team often is now), when the #5 team might easily beat any of the teams ranked ahead of it (I think of the 2008 USC team which would most likely have clobbered Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and even Florida, and which did clobber both the Ohio State which took Texas to the wire in the Fiesta Bowl and Penn State, which was the #6 or 7 team that year).

This could be resolved by either going to an 8-team play-off (5 conference winners from the major conferences plus 3 at-large and no more than 2 from any conference) or a 4-team play-off with only conference champions allowed. An alternative, I suppose, would be the multi-team system I proposed in an earlier post. The playoff we'll have simply isn't going to improve things.

The good news is that NIU lost, so maybe the PAC-12 will get that second BCS team in.

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