Tag Archives: BCS

The Cartel and the Mid-Majors, Why Scheduling Matters

Imagine pulling for a team that can’t possibly win a championship, and not just because they aren’t good enough.  In College Football, it might literally be impossible to even qualify for a championship based on the company we keep.  Because of that, and that alone, it falls on the schedule-makers at Nobody U to make said program outside the Cartel relevant to the national conversation.

That’s not to say any of the participants from “non-qualifying” conferences ever really diluted the product, quite the opposite, in fact.

Boise State was the nation’s only unbeaten team from the 2006 season. The Broncos had to ‘settle’ for that historic Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma.   Meanwhile, one-loss Florida took down Ohio State in the bigger game on that same field in Arizona a week later.  After Boise State’s 43-42 overtime win over Oklahoma, their quarterback was asked if they deserved a title shot, and he said he thought so.  He wasn’t wrong, but he wasn’t quite all-the-way right either.

That perfect Boise State squad scheduled Division I-AA Sacramento State, a 10-win Oregon State team, Wyoming, and Utah in a down year, out of conference. None of their Western Athletic Conference rivals were ranked at the time of their game against the Broncos or the end of the season, so it was very difficult to argue their body of work against that of Ohio State’s or Florida’s for a spot in the two-team playoff.  Being undefeated basically became the standard for the Broncos, but even non-league wins over Oregon, Virginia Tech, and Georgia were not enough for National Championship consideration.  Playing other mid-majors in 8 or 9 contests per year, it impresses no one.

What are the contenders in the American, Conference-USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt doing to chase down more than just small conference glory? What type of 2016 schedule might qualify these nobodies for the very exclusive tournament that College Football uses to crown its champion?

American Athletic Conference

The geography of this league lends itself to some really good non-conference games, as SMU gets backyard games with TCU and Baylor, but the team with a schedule worthy of national consideration is Houston.  Sure, they’re playing Lamar, and I will not support any playing of FCS opponents by teams that want to be the best of the FBS, but I’ll let it go for Oklahoma and Louisville.  The Sooners and Cardinals will both play Houston in Houston, which should be good enough if they survive the AAC.

Conference USA

Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) is going to attract the big boys to the Alamo Dome, but they will usually have to reciprocate with a road game. This year, they host Arizona State in September and take a trip to College Station, where Texas A&M will host them in November.  Don’t expect competitive games.  I might like Marshall’s gauntlet of ACC adversaries, if they weren’t coming immediately after an opening slate of Morgan State and Akron. Like Marshall, Western Kentucky will be taking on Louisville, but we’re focused on their Week 2 matchup. They’ll tussle with Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide, so should there be a running of the table, the Hilltoppers may get to dance.

Mid-American Conference

There might be a case to be made for Northern Illinois, but Bowling Green accompanies their visit to Columbus to play Ohio State with solid mid-major matchups against Middle Tennessee State and Memphis. They’ll see both NIU and Toledo in conference play, games they need to win for anyone to take them seriously, especially if Ohio State doesn’t boat-race them in the opener.

Mountain West

Boise State will make headlines in some markets with their Pac-12 opponents, at home against Washington State and in Corvallis versus the Oregon State Beavers, but BYU may give them their biggest challenge. However, it is the much traveled Hawaii Rainbow Warriors that play Cal, Michigan, and Arizona.  Those are all long-ish to long road trips against 2016 teams that are much better than their 2015 counterparts.

Sun Belt

If I skipped this section or listed FCS schools in this paragraph, would you even notice?

On a serious note, Troy plays Clemson, which is cool, but it’s off-set it is by playing the dregs of the FBS in Idaho. Austin Peay and Southern Miss don’t move the needle for me either, looking at the Trojans schedule. However, our eye is on Appalachian State.  The team best known for upsetting Michigan in 2007 is going FCS-free in ‘16, visiting the best Tennessee Volunteers team anyone has seen in years, and they convinced The U to come to Boone, North Carolina. The Mountaineers have already won, if you ask me.

At the end of the day, if we’re talking about those four lines and those two semi-final games, to open our game’s championship up to the anyone outside of the Cartel, it’s probably Houston.

E-mail Jeff at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ByJeffRich.

(featured photo via Sporting News.com)

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College Football Playoff: A Rose By Any Other Name Wouldn’t Smell As Sweet

Fixing the Bugs

Everybody needs to understand that the College Football Playoff is still a work in progress. It will at be at least a few more seasons before the committee works out all the glitches of the brand new system.

One of the glitches the committee was recently forced to deal with was the failure of the New Year’s Eve semi-final games, to which the committee has officially decided to move the semifinals away from.

This decision comes on the back of a pair games that saw ratings drop 35% from the previous CFP semis. It is important to note that these games were not very close.

However,  no major sporting event’s TV ratings should drop that much simply from the result. It was clear to everyone, and eventually to the committee, that the New Year’s Eve semifinals needed to change.

So, everyone should be excited that, starting in the 2018 season, the College Football Playoff semifinals will be moving to December 29.

Wait that can’t be right…December 29, really? Oh, and in 2019 they move to the 28, splendid.

Yes, because we all know nothing screams “college football” like New Year’s Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve.

The Numbers Game

In all seriousness though, why has the committee had such a problem with this? They keep moving the date around instead of going back to the one day when people are guaranteed to watch Bowl Games: New Year’s.

In most college football families, watching the Rose Bowl and the other New Year’s games are a tradition. Thus, it is incredibly nerve-racking to see the committee moving further and further away from this date.

Even when NFL games steal New Year’s Day, the Rose Bowl always puts up great numbers. In 2012, when played on the 2nd of January, the Rose Bowl TV ratings didn’t drop any significant amount.

Even when the Rose Bowl ratings dropped to a record low 7.4 last year, on the backs of two teams, Stanford and Iowa, with rather small followings compared to the behemoths, such as Ohio State or Norte Dame, whom often compete in the Game of Rose, the Rose Bowl’s ratings were still relatively close to the CFP games, whose low numbers should have dwarfed that year’s Rose Bowl match-up.

A Permanent Fix

My addendum to the College Football Playoff is this: From now on, The Rose Bowl will always be one of the two CFP semis, on January 1 or 2. Then, the follow-up game immediately after will be the second semi, and will rotate between bidding cities and the former BCS bowl locations. Because, as much as people may try to argue, we all know that the Rose Bowl is on another level.

I mean, come on, it’s literally called “The Granddaddy Of Them All.”

People will always care more about the Rose Bowl than any other generic Bowl that is made. The Rose bowl is the ultimate in the College Football world, and it needs to be the permanent centerpiece of the CFP.

Lets make the Rose Bowl the start of the College Football Playoff from here on out and allow it’s ratings to help boost the following Semifinal. Stop trying to make other games as prominent as the Rose, and simply use the Rose to boost TV ratings, viewership and corporate interest as much as possible.

At the end of the day, wouldn’t it make sense to center the biggest event in college football around the biggest single game in college football? Truly, in order to keep people fully engaged in the CFP, we should make sure that they are watching the best game they can.

The Rose Bowl is the heart of all things college football, maybe even all things college sports. As such, I think it would be wise for the CFP committee to make the Rose Bowl the official start of the College Football Playoff.

It will really help cement the brand of the CFP, and provide college football with a bright future for years to come.

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @uf_goetz.

Photo courtesy of Ken Lund – Flickr

How the BCS Favored the SEC

To the SEC,

As much as it pains me, I must begin by saying congratulations on reclaiming the national title in dominating fashion once again this past season. You have earned bragging rights over the entire college football landscape and possess the secret winning formula that the rest of the nation covets so desperately. However, the point of this article is not about celebrating you guys but to point out something.

First of all, I admit I do not know many SEC fans but I always hear how the SEC has been the most dominant conference the past 15 years. You indeed won seven straight titles at one point, but even you guys have to admit the reign was during the infamous, flawed BCS era.

Now, I’m not saying the SEC didn’t play hard for those titles and I’m not saying the Big Ten or any other conference was great either but I’ve always felt that the BCS unfairly favored the SEC. An excerpt from Chuck Thompson’s book, “Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession” (see citation**), he made the argument that the SEC got favorable rankings not because it was so good but was so good due to its favorable BCS rankings.

He wrote, “The BCS business plan works like this: preseason rankings typically include two, three, or four SEC teams among the nation’s top ten, more than from any other conference. From the outset, this bias for SEC teams builds into the system a near insurmountable advantage.  Start the season with two of the top four teams being from the SEC, as was the case in 2010 with Alabama and Florida, and in 2011 with Alabama and LSU, and the conference is virtually guaranteed to be represented in the title game.”

Another point Thompson made was that the perception of the SEC as elite made it easy for the league to stay in contention and difficult for other conferences to prove themselves in the BCS era.

“If a highly ranked SEC team beat another highly ranked SEC team, the winner rose higher in the polls than it might normally, based on the fact that it’s just beat a “top-tier” team from the country’s “elite” conference while the losing SEC team in this scenario doesn’t drop as far as it might otherwise, since, after all, it has lost to a presumably powerful “top-tier” team from the country’s “elite” conference.”

For example, the No. 3 Oregon Ducks lost to No. 4 LSU by a score of 40-27 in 2011 and dropped ten spots, crushing their national championship hopes but later that year, the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide lost to #1 LSU and dropped just one spot to number three. Of course, Alabama ‘s title hopes were never dashed as they would defeat LSU 21-0 in a rematch for the BCS championship.

In addition, my friend mentioned something to me the other day, which made me recall an earlier post I did on the difference of parity in the Big Ten and SEC. He said, “I hate it that when Auburn upsets Alabama, it is viewed as a sign of strength and great parity. If Ohio State would lose to Purdue, people would say that proves the Buckeyes are not only an overrated fraud but that our league is weak.”

To me, as I said in the aforementioned article, it doesn’t make sense how it got this way. It’s like the Big Ten has to be perfect and be just predictably predictable whereas the SEC doesn’t have to be perfect and can be predictably unpredictable.

You might say, wait a minute, those variables were out of our control and we took care of our business by dominating the other Power 5 conferences in bowl games but SEC’s record in BCS bowl games was just 17-10 and its winning percentage in non-BCS bowls was 59.4%.

Point is, the BCS was never a perfect system, losses in the SEC weren’t as severe as they were in other conferences and while the SEC was the best conference in college football, it wasn’t quite as dominant as its die-hards would have you believe.

This new playoff system isn’t perfect either and I’m not proclaiming it to be but the two years it’s been here, it seems to have gotten most teams a fair shot. To me, it’s a new era in college football and with that in mind, the score is currently tied, a championship apiece. You guys certainly have the upper hand but don’t count the rest of us out just yet.

*Featured image courtesy of Flickr/Tate Nations

**Thompson, Chuck. (2012). Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession. New York: Simon & Shuster. Retrieved online May 12, 2016 from  http://www.thepostgame.com/commentary/201208/better-without-em-northern-manifesto-southern-secession-chuck-thompson-sec-bcs

Ten Reasons Why I Can’t Wait for the Return of SEC Football

It has come: the time of the year when the football world starts to get boring. The college football season is over. The bowl season is over. The NFL season is over. The Super Bowl has been won. The high school recruits have made their decisions. The NFL combine has showcased our athletes. In the football world, this is the time of the year when we do a lot of waiting. And the more I think about it, the harder it gets for me to patiently await the start of the 2016 season for SEC football teams. I can think of countless reasons I am anxiously awaiting SEC football returning to my screen and to my college town, but I have decided to only subject you to ten of those reasons.

  1. The tailgating: I know, tailgating is a common practice for football fans everywhere. But a tailgate in SEC country is something that is often imitated but never duplicated. If you have ever lived in an SEC college town, then you know this. Sure, our teams are better so we don’t need to be as drunk to tolerate however they play that weekend, but we all know football and beer go hand-in-hand anyways. Or football and bourbon…that, too.
  2. The match-ups: We also all know by now that there are some obvious perennial powerhouse teams in the SEC (I’m looking at you, Bama). But that fact does not prevent us from watching interesting matchups every single week, especially those deep-seeded rivalries in our conference like the Iron Bowl. Even in a down year, either team can win one of those rivalry games. And that unpredictability is just plain awesome.
  3. The defense: There are rules by now that take out a little bit of the excitement that has come along with defensive hits in college football. But even though they have softened the game up, we still get to witness some pretty amazing defensive plays down here. The defensive talent on SEC football teams is unparalleled. And everybody knows the key to winning, especially in the SEC, is defense.
  4. The anticipation: This one is pretty self-explanatory. We wait all off-season until our team gets to kick off their season. We wake up too early that day and wait until our game starts. Then, before we know it, the game is over. So almost every week, we get an entire week of down time. During that down time we can scout the opponents and our anticipation for the next game grows. And with the teams we play throughout the season down here, that anticipation almost never fades.
  5. The playoffs: The BCS was a flawed system. The playoffs are a flawed system as well. But at least they are a bit less flawed. There are always going to be a number of biased voters involved in choosing the “best” teams. So having the teams that were deemed part of the top four face off at the end of the year is much better than just giving that chance to the supposed top two. Not that it was a problem for SEC football before, but we almost definitely will be represented on a yearly basis now.
  6. The coaches: College football coaches are a special breed. The coaches in the SEC are even more special. Just last week, a couple of the SEC coaches and a couple Big Ten coaches had a little fun on Twitter. But how can we forget Nick Saban’s extremely embarrassing dance moves, Les Miles and his affinity for grass, or Will Muschamp’s very colorful language? Week in and week out in either half of the conference, you are sure to be entertained by the whole cast of coaches.
  7. The Saturdays: To be completely honest, I am not really sure what to do with myself on most Saturdays. But once the football season starts, I know what I will be doing for hours on end every single Saturday. Even on my team’s bye weekends I know I will be able to find another good conference game to watch. Ahh, the joys of the SEC!
  8. The tradition: If you have ever been to an SEC football game, then you will understand how incredible the tradition is. Tennessee fans will be drunkenly singing Rocky Top, Bama fans obnoxiously yelling “Roll Tide,” Auburn fans constantly saying “War Eagle,” and Ole Miss fans adding their “Hotty Toddy” (whatever that means) to the mix. Any true SEC fan can agree that being a part of their team’s tradition is an experience like no other. That tradition forms an immediate bond between every single fan in the stadium and even fans across the country.
  9. The emotions: An SEC fan can experience the full range of emotions in just a matter of minutes. The perfect example: last year, Tennessee visited Florida. The Vols took a convincing lead over the Gators. My dad was a little smug and definitely very happy. Meanwhile I was visibly upset. Then Florida mounted a crazy comeback and won the game. I was in a state of disbelief; I could barely even form a sentence. Meanwhile my dad could barely stomach a single bite of food. That game caused both my dad and me to experience more emotion than we would have watching an Oscar-nominated drama. And SEC football does that for the rest of the fans on a regular basis too.
  10. The pride: Last but not least, here in SEC Country there are two kinds of pride that many of us can understand. There is the obvious pride that goes along with your favorite team winning a game or having a good season. Then there is the SEC pride that comes from the realization that your team is a part of the best conference in college football. I prefer Gator pride any day, but my SEC pride will do when my Gators are not able to deliver.

I am a woman of my word. I said that I would only subject you to ten of my reasons, and that is what I did. But if you want some more SEC love you can interact with me on Twitter, @OGKristenB! Or even if you are just as bored as I am waiting for football to come back into your life then you can find me on Twitter to empathize. After all, misery loves company.

FSU’s QB Battle and ACC Wrap Up

Florida State’s 45-21 victory over Syracuse means a lot more than simply defeating an ACC opponent, the victory brings up questions at the most important position on offense, the quarterback.

With season long starter Everett Golson sitting out the game due to a concussion, backup Sean Maguire got the start and proceeded to pass for 348 yards, 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.

Maguire simply made the offense look the best it has all season. Most noticeably was his ability to throw down the field, which Golson has shown he isn’t consistently able to do. The plays that were being called for Maguire proved that there is more trust in his arm than Golson’s. The Seminoles haven’t been utilizing wide receiver Travis Rudolph’s speed downfield because Golson can’t be trusted to chuck it down the field. In comes Maguire, and two bombs to Rudolph later early in the game and he has two catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

Travis Rudolph had his best game of the season with Maguire under center.
Travis Rudolph had his best game of the season with Maguire under center.

Being able to stretch the field is something that the Seminole offense has been lacking all season, with this, opposing defenses have been loading the box in order to contain running back Dalvin Cook, and Golson hasn’t given any team a reason not to because he hasn’t shown that he is capable of making the defenses pay.

All of this adds up to one big question for the Seminoles leading into the biggest game of their season against newly #1 Clemson; who should be the starting quarterback?

Normally a good game by the backup quarterback in replacement of the starter isn’t enough to supplant the starter, but this isn’t an ordinary situation. The first reason is that even though Golson transferred in during the offseason and subsequently won the starting job over Maguire, Golson hasn’t performed to the level that was expected and the level coaches were hoping. Secondly is that Maguire has proved that he can lead the team to victories, he is only 2-0, but one of them was against Clemson and their top five defense last season.

Who will start is a complete unknown at this point. Coach Jimbo Fisher has said everything from saying he’s going to wait and see throughout the week, to saying that he’s not eliminating the possibility of a two quarterback system. Regardless of who starts, the success of the Seminoles season will be determined by the outcome of their next game against Clemson. A win will help people forget about their loss to Georgia Tech, while also putting them in the driver’s seat of the Atlantic division of the ACC.

If you asked me, I think the nod will be given to Maguire. It is a tough decision, but Golson just hasn’t looked like he has been in control of the ‘Noles offense at any point of the season. At times he looks scared and opts to scramble, or he throws a short pass, the offense under Golson was more of a dink and dunk offense, compared to what Maguire showed us on Saturday. Maguire’s arm brought life to the offense, and he did so without Dalvin Cook.

The Seminoles face Clemson at 3:30 on Saturday.

Here’s what else happened in the ACC this weekend:

MIAMI’S KICKOFF RETURN VS DUKE

One of the biggest plays of the season happened last weekend when Miami miraculously returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Duke to win the game as time expired. Miami, in a last ditch effort to win the game lateralled the ball eight times and managed to get by the Duke coverage team to score the game-winning touchdown, but not really. One of the Miami runners who attempted to lateral the ball was clearly down upon watching the replay, and multiple block in the back calls were missed that should have been called. The ACC has thus suspended a couple of the ACC officials from the game, admitting that the referees erred on the play. So the play that won Miami the game, shouldn’t have been a touchdown, but it was. Why the ACC can’t overturn the play and give Duke the victory is beyond me, but as it stands Miami won the game, and now has an outside shot of winning the Coastal division. It really is a shame because Duke had a lot more on the line in this game than Miami did. With the loss, Duke now is a game back from UNC in the Coastal division of the ACC.

UNC LEADS THE COASTAL DIVISION

Because of the botched kickoff return, UNC is now sitting atop the Coastal division. With Pittsburgh and Duke both losing, #21 North Carolina is now quietly 7-1 and in position to face either Clemson or Florida State in the ACC championship. The divisional race is still far from over as UNC and Duke face each other this weekend, with Duke and Pitt facing each other in two weeks. Nonetheless it seems like this UNC team is being slept on. They have the 21st ranked offense in points per game in the NCAA, and the 15th best defense in terms of points allowed. People will point to their strength of schedule, but the win over #23 Pittsburgh helped put them on the map, and how they perform in their game against Duke this weekend will go a long ways to determining how good this team really is.

FRANK BEAMER RETIRES

Frank Beamer, the long-time coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies has decided to step down as head coach after the end of the 2015 season. This wasn’t a move that was completely unexpected, but it will mark the end of an era at Virginia Tech. Beamer began coaching for Virginia Tech in 1987, leading them to 22 straight bowl games. His teams have slipped a bit over the past few seasons, which along with his age, surely played a big part in his decision to step down. Beamer will be remembered as one of the most respected coaches in college football by coaches, and by his players who all credit Beamer to being one of the biggest influences in their careers. Beamer took Virginia Tech from an independent team in 1987, to the Big East in 1991, to where they are now in the ACC in 2004. Beamer led the Hokies to four ACC Championships, three Big East Championships, and six BCS bowl game appearances. Who will be the coach in 2016 is unclear, however Beamer has stated in the past that he hopes someone on his current staff will be named his successor.

The College Football Playoff Needs A New Location

It’s a brave new world with the College Football Playoff and the death of the BCS.

We’ve got new polls, the death of old polls and finally an undisputed champion of college football. Life is good but there might be room for some more change. Historically the championship games of BCS were always played at the same few locations with the College Football Playoff following suit.

In this brave new world though, how about some new locations? Give the rest of the country a chance maybe?

As much as it kills me to do it as a Michigander and someone who lives just outside of Detroit, the Motor City is not on my list. We throw a great party. Just look at the Super Bowl we hosted but the I don’t think the College Football Playoff is for us. It’s too damned cold and there’s too much snow to try and get all those people to show up. Students justify the trip because it’s warm in the usual locations and so do a lot of adults. NFL fans might not always be as passionate but they probably have more money to spend.

This pretty much goes for any city in that same northern area. Sorry Minneapolis but you’re cold too. We’re a lot more fun in the summer.

That leaves Atlanta, Charlotte, Santa Clara, San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans and Miami as our remaining choices to pick the top 3.

For me, Santa Clara probably tops this list.

California’s a cool place and Levi Stadium is basically brand new. You’re pretty close to San Jose, Palo Alto, and Mountain View. Go visit the Googleplex and ask them about that intern movie with Vince Vaughn. They love it when you ask about that. Head 45 miles north and you can go to San Francisco too.

So let’s see… that’s warm weather, a brand new state of the art stadium, and enough cool nearby destinations to make it a long weekend or an entire week trip if you want. Yeah, Santa Clara sounds pretty dang good.

Next up is a coin flip of Houston and San Antonio. Take your pick and assume I’m talking about that city.

I won’t lie, part of my motivation at picking a Texas city is that it’s not in Dallas and Jerry Jones’s stadium. Annoying Jerry Jones is always fun.

Also Texas as a whole is just football crazy. There’s high school stadiums that cost more than my university’s stadium. Heck, I’m pretty sure there’s a high school stadium that cost more than my high school. If you don’t think they’re going to roll out the red carpet you’re nuts.

The one advantage that San Antonio and Houston have over Santa Clara is that things aren’t quite as expensive in Texas. If things aren’t quite as costly (hotel rooms, flights, etc) the more likely it is people will head down there. Cash-strapped students will head down for some warmer weather when they might not have been able to afford the trip to California.

The final pick was something difficult. Originally I was thinking New Orleans but it would essentially turn into a pre-Marti Gras and that would be a trainwreck waiting to happen. Miami always gets cool stuff and Atlanta is right in SEC territory and they can get kind of obnoxious sometimes.

That leaves us with Charlotte and you know what? I’m OK with that.

When’s the last time you heard about a big time event in Charlotte? They get the ACC title game but as far as title games go, it’s not super exciting lately. They’ve never had a Super Bowl or anything like that. So let’s give Charlotte a chance! It’s a city that everyone knows but probably not as many people have it on their list of cities to visit.

It’ll be warm enough for people to be outside and having fun. Get Ric Flair to strut around and lead a parade. It’ll be a fun time.

But let’s be real here: it took so long for the BCS to be killed off and the College Football Playoff to be created that we aren’t going to see any change any time soon. College athletics are creatures of habit and don’t like change. It’s going to take some kind of major catastrophe at one of the current locations to force a change and I just don’t see that happening.

What Is A Heisman Caliber Player Worth?

This past week was like any other week for me. I watched college football with my girlfriend. We started with the Holiday Bowl (she is a Husker), progressed to the Citrus Bowl (i’m a Tiger) and made our way to the college football playoff games.

A few of these games featured players who either won this year’s Heisman trophy or were part of the conversation of legitimate Heisman hopefuls. As these players were discussed during the games and in the studio, my girlfriend asked a great question. She asked how many Heisman trophy winners have successful NFL careers. As we all know, if you’re a QB, not many.

This conversation led my mind down another tunnel and I asked myself a follow up question. How many teams appearing in the championship game featured Heisman caliber players?

I asked myself this based on the four teams playing in this inaugural college football playoff. Oregon has Heisman winner Marcus Mariotta, Florida St. has Jameis Winston, Alabama has Amari Cooper and Ohio St. has…

This is part of what makes Ohio St in the national championship game so intriguing to me. They do not currently have a marquee player and in any previous year would not have been in the championship game. But that was in the BCS era and not the college football playoff era.

I want to look back at the BCS era (1998-2013) and the teams that played in those championship games. This article will serve two purposes. The first is to examine Heisman players in the championship game and the second purpose will be to officially usher out the BCS era.

1998

Tennessee vs. Florida St. Tennessee won the game 23-16. Neither team featured the Heisman winner (Ricky Williams) and neither team featured a player who was in the top 10 of Heisman votes.

1999

Florida St. vs Virginia Tech. Florida St. won the game 46-29. Again, neither team featured the Heisman (Ron Dayne), but each team featured a player worthy of top 10 voter status. Florida St had Peter Warrick and Virginia Tech was led by Michael Vick.

2000

Oklahoma vs Florida St. The Sooners won the game 13-2; congratulations Bob, you lived up to your reputation one year. Unlike 1998 and 1999, this championship game featured the Heisman winner. Florida St.’s Chris Weinke won it and the runner up was Oklahoma’s Josh Heupel.

2001

Miami vs Nebraska. Miami won the game 37-14. Once again, we see a Heisman winner on display. Nebraska’s Eric Crouch took home the hardware this year. Miami also featured two players in the top 10 of voting; Ken Dorsey and Bryant Mckinnie.

2002

Ohio St. vs Miami. Ohio St. beat Miami 31-24. Ohio St. did not feature a Heisman caliber player and Miami was led by two players receiving top 10 votes; Ken Dorsey and Willis McGahee.

2003

LSU vs Oklahoma. Bob Stoops lost to the SEC 21-14. Not-So-Big-Game-Bob did have Heisman winner Jason White while LSU did not feature a Heisman caliber player.

2004

USC vs Oklahoma. Welcome back Bob. USC won 55-19 behind the arm of Heisman winner Matt Leinart. Oklahoma featured Heisman caliber players Adrian Peterson and Jason White.

2005

Texas vs. USC. Texas won 41-38. USC’s Heisman level players were Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. Texas featured Vince Young.

2006

Florida vs Ohio St. The Gators won 41-14 much to the disappointment of Ohio St. Heisman winner Troy Smith. The Gators featured no one who was in Heisman consideration.

2007

LSU vs. Ohio St. LSU won it all 38-24. LSU did not have a Heisman caliber player and LSU featured one player under consideration; Glenn Dorsey.

2008

Florida vs Oklahoma. Bob keeps hanging around, but Florida won it all 24-14. Oklahoma did feature Heisman winner Sam Bradford. And Florida featured Tim Tebow.

2009

Alabama vs Texas. Alabama took this game 37-21 on the back of Heisman winner Mark Ingram. Texas has Heisman caliber player Colt McCoy.

2010

Auburn vs Oregon. Auburn pulled it out 22-19 with Heisman winner Cam Newton. Oregon had Heisman vote recipient LaMichael James.

2011

Alabama vs LSU. Alabama won meeting number two 21-0. Get over it SEC haters. Neither team featured the Heisman winner but leading vote recipients did include Alabama’s Trent Richardson and LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu.

2012

Alabama vs Notre Dame. Alabama pulled the repeat and won 42-14. Alabama did not feature a Heisman caliber player while Notre Dame had vote recipient Manti Te’o.

2013

Florida St vs Auburn. Florida St ended Auburn’s fairy tale year 34-31. Heisman winner Jameis Winston played for Florida St while Auburn had Tre Mason.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Heisman caliber players are needed to make a championship run. Most of these games featured Heisman caliber players while others did not feature that caliber of player. Only 4 games featured a team without a Heisman level player. Oregon features 2014 winner Marcus Mariota while Ohio St. sort of features a Heisman caliber player. J.T. Barrett received votes, but is sidelined due to injury. So for the purposes of examining this year’s championship game, Ohio St. does not feature a Heisman type of player.

I have called into question the integrity of the college football playoff committee in the past and, for that reason, I believe we’ll see far less Heisman-less caliber teams in the final 4 and championship game as we move forward (Not that we saw a lot in the BCS era). Let’s face it, people are far more biased than computers and Heisman caliber players will inflate the market value placed on teams. I do prefer a playoff system, but that system is not without its shortcomings.

Not So Easy College Football Playoff Changes

Yesterday was more than exciting, but that’s college football almost every week. Yesterday might have been more exciting because we’d like to see these bigger matchups in the regular season, or because we haven’t seen tight ends do double hurdles in a few weeks, or because a power conference fell from grace and another seemingly rose out of nowhere.

I can’t put my finger on exactly why yesterday was great, but I can tell you one thing: my demand for a 12-team playoff was a joke. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the number or the formula or anything related. I’m still not convinced that four is the right number, but I’m leaning that way.

I do, however have a few suggestions. Right, Ohio State and Oregon haven’t played, but that won’t have any effect on what I’m about to tell you, so let’s get it out of the way before someone else does and makes me look like a copy/paster:

  1. Pick the best four teams
  2. Eliminate final rankings based on conference championship week
  3. Don’t become NASCAR. Find a formula and stick with it
  4. Play games that finish before 1am

Pick the Best Four Teams

This one seems obvious, but for whatever reason it didn’t play out this way. Coming into yesterday’s games, everyone was under the assumption that Ohio State was the team that didn’t deserve to be in the playoff. If you’ve listened or read anything I’ve said, I told you that Ohio State is the team that consistently improved over the entire season. Based on how their season ended, you could have made the argument they deserved to be ranked higher than number four. The reality is, as long as we have humans making these decisions alone there will be bias at play.

Which of the four was the least deserving based on yesterday’s performance AND their performance throughout the season: Florida State. Yes, Florida State had won 29 games in a row, had a Heisman Trophy winner, and was the defending National Champion, but simply watching them week in and week out would have told you they weren’t one of the best teams in the country.

When your Power 5 conference is the fifth of five and you’re surviving against Miami, Boston College and Florida late in the season, you aren’t one of the best four teams. The question then becomes, which of the top eight do you put in? Well, that answer is less than obvious.

Eliminate Final Rankings Based on Conference Championship Week

This one seems obvious. There are five Power 5 conferences, but only four have conference championship games. The easiest solution is to force the Big 12 to declare a conference champion. That’s also the biggest problem. The other four have conference championship games, so what do you do with the Big 12 then? Right, the easiest solution is to de-emphasize (read: eliminate) the conference championship game and go with performance in the regular season.

The commissioners will never agree to this because those conference championship games are money grabs for them and their schools, so we’ll file this under ‘Pipe Dream,’ but the reality is, crazy things happen in championship games, and right, sometimes the best teams don’t win.

What if Wisconsin beats Ohio State and Arizona beats Oregon in their conference championship games? Are we now forced to eliminate those two teams from the playoff because of a conference championship loss when their performance in the regular season clearly dictates they were two of the best all year?

Don’t become NASACR. Find a formula and stick with it

The impetus will be for change after the first playoff. I’m probably OK with that, but please don’t enact changes every year because one team or conference dominates the playoff. Feel free to find a formula that works – even if unpopular – and stick with it for four to five years. The great thing about college football is that even if people don’t agree with how the champion is selected, they will always watch. The BCS era proved that.

If powers-that-be tweak and change the formula or selection process on a yearly basis then they’ve basically become NASCAR. NASCAR is now the WWE who changes the rules on the fly and doesn’t share its rule book with the fans. The fans are significant shareholders in college football and deserve a say in how the playoffs are played, but shouldn’t be the reason the deciding formula is changed on a frequent basis.

Have the testicular fortitude to say ‘no’ to change. #NoMeansNo

Play games that end before 1 am

Last night was totally unacceptable. Slotting college football games that will have as many commercial slots as the Super Bowl into 3:15 minute windows doesn’t work. It doesn’t work when you “start” the first game at 5 and tell us the next game will “start” at 8:30. It also doesn’t work that you didn’t start the second game until after 9:15 and that I didn’t leave my viewing location until nearly 1am.

Oh, and it’s a school night.

For many people, it didn’t matter, and I understand why college football and the NFL don’t want to play these important games on the weekend, so at the very least start them at a reasonable time. I hate tradition, but I get why the Rose Bowl is before the Sugar Bowl. Is there any reason you can’t have the Rose Bowl at 4 and the Sugar Bowl at 7? The Cotton Bowl people won’t mind starting that game at 2 knowing half the viewing crowd will leave early for the Rose. Or start the Cotton at 12. I don’t care, but having these games end at 1am on a school night any night doesn’t work.

Next year, these games will be replaced with two other bowl games next year, so change the names of the bowls to fit whatever narrative you want, but the important part is that games cannot end at 1am.

There was a ton to like about the first installment of the College Football Playoff, but there’s room for improvement both on and off the field. The easiest changes are always playing the best four teams no matter their record or conference affiliation and not starting games at 9pm on the east coast. The hardest change: not penalizing teams because their conference doesn’t have a championship.

What do you think? What changes would you make to playoff after the first year? Leave a comment below or e-mail me at [email protected].

College Football Playoff: Four Teams Isn’t Enough and Best vs. More Deserving

The time has come to talk about an expanded playoff system. When the format for this playoff was announced, nearly everyone except for the people who created the system knew four teams wasn’t enough. With the craziness of this year, and the stupidity of conference championship games, expanding to at least eight teams is the right move.

The number can be argued, and while I prefer 12 teams, most other people prefer eight. My argument for 12 is to give the top two teams a bye week and have the others play the first week. That incentive to be the first or second seed is real because of the bye week. Many will argue that having a bye week hurts teams, but under the current system, teams will have roughly 40 days off before they play their first playoff game anyway.

The first, and most important thing to do is eliminate the conference championship game. The game serves no purpose but to hurt the conference and its probable best team. For example, if Missouri beats Alabama next week in Atlanta, does Missouri automatically get placed in the top four? No, of course not. But, does that mean Alabama really isn’t one of the best four teams in the country? No. And let’s not be stupid about that.

The argument for an eight-team playoff is that each of the power conferences would get an automatic entry to the playoff. I think that’s terrible. And it isn’t because I think the SEC has “more better” teams than the Big Ten, Big 12 or anyone else, it’s just that I think the playoff is supposed to be about the best teams in the country. Obviously having a full tournament isn’t going to happen, so select the best teams. The argument I made above about eliminating the conference tournament applies here directly. So, we’ll take Missouri over Alabama in an eight-team playoff because that’s the conference champion? Georgia Tech over Florida State? Wisconsin over Ohio State?

To take those three winning teams, and trying to find a way for the other teams that are clearly better, but lost their championship games is the same problem I have with the NCAA basketball tournaments. Teams shouldn’t have automatic bids based on winning their conference.

I’ll be real with you, I hate Cinderella. I’m sure she’s a great person, but she does nothing for me. The underdog story is nice, but George Mason ruining my basketball tournament a few years ago isn’t something I’m interested in seeing on a regular basis. And to say that the basketball and football tournaments should be the same or similar is a farce. Again, too many differences between the sport and layouts. Automatic bids kind of work in basketball, but they don’t work in football.

Most Deserving vs. Best

While we’re being real, let’s agree that “most deserving” vs. “best” can’t be an argument when we’re limiting the number of teams in a playoff. If you want most deserving, then keep the conference champions and figure out a way to get the best teams in. What you’ll have is a bunch of first round games that are generally bad.

What would you rather see in the first round of the playoff, No 8 UCLA vs. No. 1 Alabama or – pretending that Alabama loses – No. 8 UCLA vs. No. 7 Missouri?* So if you take the conference champions, who do you take as the other three? How are all the teams ranked?

What if you leave Alabama as No. 1 and Missouri as No. 17?

Do you see why most deserving is such a terrible standard? Unless we’re playing 25 teams, then simply take the best eight or 12 or whatever number of teams and be done with it. Ideally those teams are ranked 1 through whatever and that solves the seeding problem. Best is better than most deserving in limited tournaments.

Argue with me, I dare you.

*based on 11/15 rankings [pdf]

What are your thoughts on the playoff, expansion, and best vs. most deserving? Leave a comment below, find me on Twitter @damienbowman or send an e-mail to [email protected].

The Playoff – Welcome to the Season Where Everybody Gets a Trophy

Welcome to the first season of watered down college football. The playoff has not even begun yet and I am okay with it going away. Last night #2 played #5. The hype to this game was that the winner would still be in the playoff hunt but the loser would probably be out. What no one told us though was that close losses can become wins. Notre Dame lost a close game and the result is like watching football with two teams winning. The result was becoming obvious, not in the last few seconds of the fourth quarter but in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. Think about it. In the last five minutes of the fourth quarter, two teams had played good enough that the result would be that, REGARDLESS OF RESULT, both teams would still be in the playoff hunt at the conclusion of the game. This is the new reality of college football where, at least until the end, everyone gets a trophy.
Oklahoma suffered their second loss of the season last night so they are finally out . . . . . well maybe. We actually don’t know. Maybe the best way figure this out is to decide where we would be right now if we were still being oppressed by the tyranny of the BCS. Here is a look at the top teams from last week’s Amway Coaches Poll and their hopes of winning a National Championship. For Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Florida State, everything is the same under either year. Win and you are in. After that it gets muddy.
#4 Baylor – lost to West Virginia. Under either system, their best shot would be to run the tables and be the Big 12 winner. With a glut of one loss teams, they would most likely be out of the BCS scenario. They would need a lot of dominos to fall as they would more than likely be behind the pack of Alabama, Auburn, Kansas State, and then would be mixed in with Oregon, Georgia, TCU, (whom they beat), Ohio State and possibly Nebraska. With a playoff and the addition of two slots, chances are still slim. Not factored in is the possibility that one of the Mississippi teams could join the ranks of one loss teams and that could further glut the process.
#5 Notre Dame – Will be interesting to see where the Irish are placed. I could see Notre Dame staying at or around #5 with their loss. In the BCS, Notre Dame would most likely be eliminated. The Irish would have to hope for the Seminoles to lose twice, an extremely unlikely scenario, and for the other one loss teams that had tougher schedules to lose again. With a playoff, they are very much alive. As mentioned, very possibly they will be at or near the top of one loss teams. One of the Mississippi teams is destined to lose in the Egg Bowl if they don’t lose before then. In a playoff scenario, instead of having to root for Florida State to lose twice, the Irish become the Seminoles’ biggest fans.
#6 Michigan State – Their blowout loss to Oregon early on would preclude them from any hope of playing in the National Championship Game under any sane scenario of the BCS. More than likely, that loss would do the same in the playoff scenario however, as of the last poll they were the highest rated one loss team in the poll. We know that the polls do not matter under the new system but regardless of the chatter, the polls will factor in. Strangely, under the playoff system, a game between two once beaten teams, Ohio State and Michigan State could wind up being a play-in to the playoff if some teams fall whereas in the BCS, that game would hold little weight in propelling either team to the Championship game.
#7 Alabama – Under the BCS, Alabama would need to win out, and also hope that Ole Miss lost. Under the playoff, if Alabama simply wins out, they would most likely be in. They would have beaten current #1 Mississippi State, current #8 Auburn, and the SEC East Champion, which will more than likely be current #10 Georgia.
#8 Auburn – Similar scenario as Alabama except that under the BCS, Auburn would need Mississippi State to lose. Also, Auburn would have a hard time overcoming a fifteen point loss to Mississippi State in a game where they never led. As stated above in the Alabama scenario, with the playoff, Auburn is most likely in if they win out.
#9 Oregon – Under the BCS, more than likely the Ducks would be eliminated. The loss, in itself, wasn’t that bad, however, with so many undefeated and one loss teams ahead, it would have to be an extraordinary season to somehow get Oregon into the #1 or #2 spot by the end of the season. They would have to hope that the SEC West cannibalizes itself in the next few weeks, that Georgia loses again, that Michigan State beats Ohio State, that USC beats Notre Dame, and that TCU loses another game. With the playoff, if Oregon were to win out, they would still need some pieces to fall but not so much that we could eliminate them right now.
#10 Georgia – I think in either scenario, Georgia would control its own destiny. Georgia still has to play Auburn and would have to beat the winner of the SEC West which very possibly could be the #1 or #2 team at the time they play them.
#12 TCU – In the BCS, TCU would have been all but eliminated. Not because they barely lost to Baylor but in how they lost to Baylor. More than likely, by the end of this season, pollsters, which were the driving force in the BCS, would have a hard time putting TCU into the #1 or #2 positions. With a playoff, TCU would need some teams to drop off but it is still feasible that TCU could capture a #3 or #4 position.
#13 Ohio State – Ohio State would be all but eliminated if the BCS were still around. The fourteen point loss to 4-3 Virginia Tech would all but assure that there was a better one loss team out there. Ohio State’s best shot at getting in the BCS would be to run the tables which would mean beating #6 Michigan State but as mentioned above, #6 Michigan State would be out of contention based on their horrendous loss to Oregon. Under the playoff, the Committee will take injuries into account and presumably that means Braxton Miller’s preseason injury. The Buckeyes would still need the SEC West to cannibalize itself and would need Notre Dame to lose but could feasibly get in based on their current playing.
#14 Kansas State, #17 Arizona, #18 Arizona State, #19 Nebraska, and #23 Utah could all make claims to a third or fourth playoff spot if they continue to win. I think it would be unlikely that any of these teams could crawl their way into contention under the BCS.
The question becomes whether we are better off than we were under the BCS. Arguments can be made for both. However, I found it a hard pill to swallow that Notre Dame’s close loss to Florida State last night might have actually helped their playoff chances rather than hurt them. This isn’t Notre Dame hating speak. I would have felt the same if Florida State had lost this game on Notre Dame’s called back touchdown and yet were still in contention. This morning, I am left scratching my head as to what all the hype was about. I thought it was one of the best games that I had seen all season. It certainly lived up to the hype in terms of the actual game-play but the strange no-consequences result makes me wonder what the future holds for college football.