Would a four-team playoff solve BCS problems?

 

We had a very lively discussion yesterday about the BCS and the possibility of going to a four-team or eight-team playoff when the current contract expires after the 2013 regular season. It made me think of some research that I did about a year ago, showing that a four-team playoff would have addressed many of the major controversies that have plagued the BCS since its inception in 1998.

I’ve updated some stuff, but here are what the national championship semifinals would have been for the past 11 years using the BCS formula.

Here is your homework assignment for today. Based on these semifinals, which team would have emerged as the national champion? And which semifinals do you really like?

Example: In 2008 Florida and Alabama, who played one of the best SEC championship games ever, could have won their semifinals and met again for the BCS title. Does Florida win the rematch?

Just look over this list and give me your winners or any thoughts you have about the semifinals and potential championship games.

Here is one thing to keep in mind. A four-team playoff would address a lot of problems, but not all of them. Look at Georgia n 2007. The Bulldogs would have gotten squeezed out of a four-team playoff despite being ranked No. 4 on Championship Saturday. Now how controversial would that have been?

Enjoy.

 

2008

No. 1 Oklahoma (12-1) vs. No. 4 Alabama (12-1)

No. 2 Florida (12-1) vs. No. 3 Texas (11-1)

Note: A four-team playoff this season would have still left a bunch of teams mad. No. 5 Southern Cal (11-1), whose only loss was on a Thursday night at Oregon State (27-21), believed it was the best team in the country.  No. 6 Utah (12-0) and No. 7 Texas Tech (11-1), who beat Texas, could also make a claim. I believe that if the voters in the polls had been picking four teams instead of two, they would have voted Southern Cal ahead of Alabama in the final BCS Standings because the Crimson Tide was coming off a loss. I’m not saying I agree with that, but that is what I believe the voters would have done.

 

2007

No. 1 Ohio State (11-1) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (11-2)

No. 2 LSU (11-2) vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech (11-2)

Note: Georgia and its fans would have been fuming. The Bulldogs (10-2) were No. 4 on Championship Saturday but were leapfrogged by conference championship game winners LSU, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma in the final standings and would have gotten squeezed out of the playoff.

 

2006

No. 1 Ohio State (12-0) vs. No. 4 LSU (10-2)

No. 2 Florida (12-1) vs. No. 3 Michigan (11-1)

Note:  Here is where a four-team playoff addresses a couple of problems. After losing a close game to Ohio State (42-39), Michigan thought it deserved a rematch with the Buckeyes in the BCS championship game. Florida jumped over the idle Wolverines by winning the SEC title. Michigan would have gotten its shot if it could beat Florida in the semifinals.

 

2005

No. 1 Southern Cal (12-0) vs. No. 2 Ohio State (9-2)

No. 2 Texas (12-0) vs. No. 3 Penn State (10-1)

Note:  College football fans might have gotten mad if either Southern Cal or Texas had been upset in the semifinals. They were clearly the best two teams in the country this season and played the best BCS championship game ever (at 41-38 win by Texas in the Rose Bowl.)

 

2004

No. 1 USC (12-0) vs. No. 4 Texas (10-1)

No. 2 Oklahoma (12-0) vs. No. 3 Auburn (12-0)

 Note: Urban Meyer’s undefeated Utah (11-0) team, ranked 6th, probably felt like it deserved a shot. Here a four-team playoff would have addressed one of the biggest controversies of the BCS era: An undefeated SEC championship team from Auburn that got left out.

 

2003

No. 1 Oklahoma (12-1) vs. No. 4 Michigan (10-2)

No. 2 LSU (12-1) vs. No. 3 Southern Cal (11-1)

Note: The four-team playoff would have addressed another major BCS controversy. Southern Cal finished No. 1 in both human polls but finished No. 3 in the final BCS standings. This year made the BCS adjust its formula to give more weight to the human polls.

 

2002

No. 1 Miami (12-0) vs. No. 4 Southern Cal (10-2)

No. 2 Ohio State (12-0) vs. No. 3 Georgia (12-1)

Note:  A four-team playoff would have given a shot to Georgia, whose only loss was to Florida. It would have also given a shot to Southern Cal and Carson Palmer, the Heisman Trophy winner.

 

2001

No. 1 Miami (12-0) vs. No. 4 Oregon (10-1)

No. 2 Nebraska (11-1) vs. No. 3 Colorado (10-2)

Note: This is a year when the four-team playoff could have saved the BCS a lot of embarrassment. Oregon, the Pac-10 champ, was ranked No. 2 in the human polls but No. 4 in the final BCS standings. Nebraska, which lost its last regular season game to Colorado (62-36) finished No. 2 in the standings and got destroyed by Miami in the BCS championship game in the Rose Bowl.

 

2000

No. 1 Oklahoma (12-0) vs. No. 4 Washington (10-1)

No. 2 Florida State (11-1) vs. No. 3 Miami (10-1)

Note: Miami was ranked No. 2 in the final human polls and had beaten Florida State (27-24) during the regular season. But when the numbers were crunched, Florida State edged out Miami for the No. 2 spot against Oklahoma in the BCS championship game. A rematch between the Miami and Florida State in the semifinals would have been must-see TV.

 

1999

No. 1 Florida State (11-0) vs. No. 4 Alabama (10-2)

No. 2 Virginia Tech (11-0) vs. No. 3 Nebraska (11-1)

Note: Nebraska’s only loss during the season was to Texas (24-20 in Austin) and the Cornhuskers later avenged that loss by beating the Longhorns in the Big 12 championship game (22-6). Nebraska might have given Michael Vick and company a pretty good game in the semifinals. It would have been interesting to see how Alabama, the SEC champ, would have fared against Chris Weinke and Florida State.

 

1998

No. 1 Tennessee (12-0) vs. No. 4 Ohio State (10-1)

No. 2 Florida State (10-1) vs. No. 3 Kansas State (11-1)

Note: Four team playoff would have given another life to Kansas State, which lost to Texas A&M (36-33, double overtime) in the Big 12 championship game and got knocked out of the BCS title game. I don’t think any of these teams were going to beat Tennessee that season

 

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147 comments Add your comment

matt r

April 23rd, 2009
8:45 am

I say no… still need to give the conference winners their shot with at least 8 teams.

Spanky

April 23rd, 2009
8:50 am

I don’t think any conference would agree to this without having a clause that stipulates all of the participants need to be conference champions.

m

April 23rd, 2009
8:54 am

Everybody is stupid except me. I hate everybody.

Call 'em like I see 'em

April 23rd, 2009
8:57 am

1998 – OSU over FSU
1999 – FSU over Nebraska
2000 – FSU over Oklahoma
2001 – Miami over Nebraska
2002 – OSU over Miami
2003 – LSU over Oklahoma
2004 – USC over Oklahoma
2005 – USC over Texas
2006 – OSU over Michigan
2007 – LSU over Oklahoma
2008 – Texas over Oklahoma (or USC over Texas)

Wayx Dawg

April 23rd, 2009
9:07 am

Like the idea of eight teams- 6 conf champs, 2 at large based on BCS. An SEC Champ loser has to be as deserving as a WAC champ. Would have to cut a game off reg season though. Never happen though, extra game makes lots of revenue for schools.

Otto

April 23rd, 2009
9:11 am

A 4 team does not solve enough problems and an 8 team takes far to much away from the regular season, makes the season to long, and takes away from the bowls. If the regular is not as important TV ratings and revenue will fall for many of the teams during the regular season. March Madness has killed the basketball regular season.

Otto

April 23rd, 2009
9:12 am

To clarify the 8 team playoff takes away from the non BCS bowls which generate alot of money.

Huh?

April 23rd, 2009
9:35 am

1998 – Tennessee
1999 – Nebraska
2000 – Miami
2001 – Miami
2002 – Georgia
2003 – LSU
2004 – Auburn
2005 – Texas
2006 – Florida
2007 – BCS: LSU; AP: Georgia
2008 – Florida

Zach

April 23rd, 2009
9:36 am

Call em Like I See ‘Em…. your 2000 prediction is interesting, because what DID happen was Florida State played Oklahoma (in Miami, no less) and got DESTROYED – they only scored 2 points. I guess having another game against Miami before the championship would have really helped the noles.

MT

April 23rd, 2009
9:37 am

is it just me or does the case become less compelling for a playoff as you move from the beginning of the BCS to the present day? The last compelling year for a playoff in my mind is 2004/Auburn.

I have never understood how everyone talks playoffs without insisting on conference championship games for every league; Big Ten/Pac 10 skate by every year with one less game against teams that have scouted them and know them the best.

Force every team (and every league) to end up as part of a 12 team conference and use those. There would be a lot less controversy with Ohio St losing every year in their conference championship game.

joe

April 23rd, 2009
9:39 am

Gotta disagree with Otto…when the bowl season rolls around, I’m still watching the games ’cause other than them, you got the NFL season winding down and Christmas commercials everywhere. In Jan-March, I’m watching the regular season BBall games, leading up to March madness. The argument that a playoff ruins the regular and/or bowl season is pure hogwash…

SimpleDawg

April 23rd, 2009
9:50 am

First point of order is that the Big 10 + 1 and the Pac 10 must hold a conference championship game to be considered for the BCS playoff. UGA’s not winning their conference should have disqualified them from the national championship in 2007.

Notre Dame could join the Big 10 + 1, giving it 12 members; the Pac 10 could add Utah and Boise State, giving them 12 members – and give Utah and Boise St a chance to play with some big boys each year to see how they match up. Some of the other conferences may have to rearrange some of it’s memberships for eligibility.

Now, everyone is competing on a similar platform – granted from year to year conference strengths may rise and fall – but at least each team competing for the national championship is certified conference champion….no quirks in a schedule to allow a team to duck the best teams in the conference.

Otto

April 23rd, 2009
9:50 am

Ratings for the games will fall outside of the playoffs just as they have in Basketball.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123742373482279229.html

In 1992, 34 million people watched Michigan and Duke play the NCAA final. In 2004, half that many tuned in to see Connecticut beat Georgia Tech. It was the second atrocious rating in as many years

Otto

April 23rd, 2009
9:54 am

If a team has to be a certified conf champ to play in the 8 team playoff what incentive would a SEC champ UGA have to play any star players against GT? What incentive will there be for OOC matchups?

If you think the 2 at large spots will keep the OOC matchups and late season games interesting. IMO the 2 at large spot most years will go to non BCS teams making it very long odds to get one of those 2 spots.

Tails from The Swamp

April 23rd, 2009
9:55 am

The problem Tony is exactly what you mentioned with the Georgia example. Yes, a 4 team would be better than now but would still not satisfy everyone, then soon you would have a push for 8 teams and then 18 teams. If you are to decide on a playoff, might as well go ahead and go to an NFL type format and in that case…might as well just become the NFL! It’s not a perfect system, but I think using the coaches poll plus the media poll plus strength of schedule is a formula that maintains enough of the integrity of the game while keeping things interesting and keeping us talking about it, like this article.

Matt

April 23rd, 2009
9:57 am

OH MY GOD, I CAN”T STOP LAUGHING AT “HUH?”’s 2002 NATIONAL CHAMPION!!! ARE YOU REALLY SO STUPID TO BELIEVE THAT TEAM COULD HAVE BEATEN OHIO STATE OR AN AWESOME MIAMI TEAM? Okay, I’m over it. My take:

1999: UT
2000: FSU
2001: Miami
2002-2005: USC (they are always peaking in January)
2006: UF
2007: LSU
2008: USC (because of what T-Bone said about the voters)

In the end, SEC fans should be happy with what we have right now, because it keeps USC out of it, and they own our teams – they just can’t beat the Pac-10 teams. Just my $0.02, but you UGA fans are insane if you think UGA could have beaten Miami that year — they were loaded and UGA overachieved all year and then beat a terrible FSU team in the bowl game, so they were not near as good as their ranking.

Otto

April 23rd, 2009
9:59 am

Matt, when was the last time Ohio St beat a SEC team?

m

April 23rd, 2009
9:59 am

We need a 16 team playoff. We do need the participants based on idiots like Tony Barnyards opinion. Last year you could won a billion dollars betting on UTAH because everyone of you idiots would have picked alabammer. LET THE GAMES BE DECIDED ON THE FIELD. Get rid of the BCS. A 16 team playoff would be the most exciting sporting event in history. And then we would have a true champion and not a bulllshiite champion like floriduh last year when Utah was much more deserving.

PTC DAWG

April 23rd, 2009
10:00 am

I fail to see why an 8 team playoff takes away from the regular season. With only 2 at large bids at stake, it seems to reason that BCS Conference teams would want to play at least one STRONG OOC (UGA plays 3 OOC BCS games in 09, 2 on the road, who else does that?) game to bolster their appeal. It also leaves very little in doubt that a team better win its Conference or they are not in. How does that hurt the regular season? One guarantee per Conference is not very much. Win or you have no shot at the BCS MNC. At least a VOTE isn’t usually involved. I could have seen last year being an issue, Either Bama/TX or TT would have been left out of an 8 team playoff. But #9 looking in is much better than leaving #3 on the stoop.

Jon P

April 23rd, 2009
10:07 am

I agree that an 8 team playoff would work best, but the 4 team playoff would have been better than what we did get (especially in 2001 when UGA was 13-1 and left out). If it goes to a 4 team playoff, I believe that an 8 team playoff is not far behind. I’d be willing to take “baby steps” to walk out of the current BCS mess. The only conferences that are in love with the bowl system are the PAC-10 and the Big 10. Let them live in the past and exclude them if necessary. It would be their own decision and then they could cry about how great the Rose Bowl is and that they are the true champions. The only Rose Bowl that has been worth watching lately was the one between USC and Texas! Why don’t they see that no one outside of their conferences cares about a PAC-10 vs Big 10 Rose Bowl based soley on tradition? What are they so afraid of? Traditions are good if they have a purpose and this one doesn’t. It’s time to create new traditions that will crown a true national champion in college football.

Voice of Reason

April 23rd, 2009
10:07 am

there have been two people ho have said that USC would have won in 2005 over Texas…. they played that game!! Texas won! Why do you morons think it would have been any different if there was one more game before it. Keep up Matt and Call em like I see em

Otto

April 23rd, 2009
10:07 am

PT,C one of those 2 at large bids will go to a non BCS teams. The voters will be sure to make it happens. The remaining at large would go to Texas last year or UGA in ‘07 in rare cases.

It was not long ago that OOC big games were rare in the SEC. UF still does not play them outside of FSU and Miami at times both State rivals. Why? because they do not have to. UGA and Auburn need those games to win tie breakers and get in the BCS hunt. 2004 is a prime example where the OOC schedule hurt them. If you depend on the conf. champs for 6 of the 8, the ADs will play the odds and put everything in a conf championship.

Tails from The Swamp

April 23rd, 2009
10:07 am

I think the posts you see here so far…some saying 4 teams is fine, some saying no you need at least 8 and others saying we need 16 to really determine a champion just solidifies my case (previous post).

m

April 23rd, 2009
10:07 am

We need a 16 team playoff. We DON’T need the participants based on idiots like Tony Barnyards opinion. Last year you could won a billion dollars betting on UTAH because everyone of you idiots would have picked alabammer. LET THE GAMES BE DECIDED ON THE FIELD. Get rid of the BCS. A 16 team playoff would be the most exciting sporting event in history. And then we would have a true champion and not a bulllshiite champion like floriduh last year when Utah was much more deserving.

Voice of Reason

April 23rd, 2009
10:08 am

and Matt… why do you say that USC owns the SEC teams… when was the last time they beat a legitimate SEC team??

Dean

April 23rd, 2009
10:11 am

98- Tenn
99- FSU
00- Miami
01- Colorado (one of the strongest teams I’ve seen in a long time)
02- OSU- (Yes, I’m a UGA fan and alum-don’t think we would have done it)
03-LSU
04-Auburn- I think they had as much weaponry as USC or Texas
05-USC
06-LSU
07-LSU (I still say UGA could of beaten any team at end of year and woud have won this one.)
08-Florida- Utah deserved more of a shot than Bama but UF still wins it.

Voice of Reason

April 23rd, 2009
10:12 am

Utah could never have beaten Florida and you know it. They got lucky and caught Bammer by surprise.

Huh?

April 23rd, 2009
10:14 am

Matt, I would say my opinion is far more credible than yours since you have Tennessee as the 1999 Champion (they won it in 1998 you clueless goob), have USC as the 2005 Champion (lost to Texas on a football field in JANUARY), and are generally a whiny little crybaby that pees his pants anytime someone says anything remotely positive about the Georgia Bulldogs. You’re probably a Techie trying to pretend you know something about big boy college football. I’d put my money on that.

m

April 23rd, 2009
10:14 am

Everyone of you idiots are stupid beyond belief. I can’t believe I waste my time here dealing with such stupidity. Everyone is stupid but me.

Voice of Reason

April 23rd, 2009
10:15 am

Dean— Texas beat USC in 2005 so therefore Texas would have won. Thought you must have forgotten that.

MiltonDawg

April 23rd, 2009
10:16 am

Anybody know when the last time USC played a SEC team? Would love to see some future OOC games featuring the so-called Trojans against some good SEC teams. Can you imagine??

Voice of Reason

April 23rd, 2009
10:18 am

they played the mighty Arkansas years back because they wanted to prove they can handle the SEC… they really showed us since everyone else in the SEC beat Arkansas also!

Otto

April 23rd, 2009
10:18 am

Tails from the swamp, I agree. Yesterday the 4 team or plus 1 would have won the vote and today more are wanting a 8 team playoff when the 4 team is shot down.

CFB is the most debated and watched than any other sport during their offseason. The system works and creates a sport that more people want to follow and pay big bucks to see. What other sport can pack 40k to 90k for an offseason scrimmage? Everyone is talking about Bama vs. VT a year in advance do you hear near as much in other sports? No because in CFB you have one chance to even begin to control your destiny.

m

April 23rd, 2009
10:18 am

I don’t care what any of you say…just say it with your own handle. Don’t be such a coward and try to steal my handle.

Clint

April 23rd, 2009
10:19 am

Like you said, people would still cry and moan about being left out. There is no perfect solution. If you go to a 8 team field, teams 9-11 will cry. If you go to a 16 team field, teams 17-19 will be the criers. They should just go back to the 20 polls they had in the 40s and 50s. Then about every team could claim a piece of the national championship pie.

Tails from The Swamp

April 23rd, 2009
10:19 am

I love all of these fans speculating now on who would have won (or rather who they would have like to have won). See, now if you you would have had an NFL style playoff, it would be one less thing to talk about!!! Of course you could have gone back to the ole reliable “should’ve would’ve could’ve” that I see on this “Dawg” post frequently.

Archie

April 23rd, 2009
10:20 am

8 team playoff, conference champs only. That makes all 8 games in the conference schedule a do or die game, no margin for error. Right now, teams have to be as perfect as possible to be a championship contender and that’s what makes the games so nail biting each week, this system keeps that. The non-conference games would carry no weight at all in this system, but right now teams have very little to gain and everything to lose by playing strong nonconference games. The risk-reward factor is off balance. This system restores that risk-reward ratio to a realistic level. Team can now play strong opponents that prepare them for their conference season, without worrying about whether it ruins their championship hopes or not. On the other hand though, it does kinda make for a four game preseason. However, the greatest thing about college football is watching two teams playing for their championship lives each and every week, this system keeps that in tact.

Dean

April 23rd, 2009
10:20 am

Yeah, anytime in this scenario that I had a matchup that contained the actual competing teams I went with who actually won the game. Not do to so just shows lack of knowledge and disqulaifies you from commenting on this subject anymore.

Mony

April 23rd, 2009
10:22 am

Tony, this might take more work, but what about the alternative plus 2, which I think has more of a chance of happening, at least in the next BCS iteration. That is, BCS bowls have the traditional pre-Bowl Alliance matchups (e.g. PAC-10 v. Big 10 in Rose, Big 12 in Fiesta (or Cotton if it makes it), SEC in Sugar, ACC in Orange, and at-larges as opponents). After the bowl games, a committee (or a new BCS ranking) votes on the top 2 teams to play against each other. This increases the TV ratings of many/all of the BCS games while preserving a chance for a team like Utah or Auburn in years past to make the title game. Baby steps.

Dean

April 23rd, 2009
10:23 am

Darn, I can’t get 04 and 05 straight. Too many boilermakers those years!

joe

April 23rd, 2009
10:25 am

Didn’t Florida beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game? Didn’t Texas beat Oklahoma? Why have another game when the championship game should have been Florida and Texas!

Dean

April 23rd, 2009
10:26 am

I see now what I did. I called a Penn State upset. I figured that 10-15% of the time there would be an upset. That was one of them.

Steve

April 23rd, 2009
10:27 am

A four way playoff is the only way to keep the regular season meaningful. I would rather see the debate about 4 & 5, then 2 & 3.

alsim

April 23rd, 2009
10:30 am

One stipulation, they would need to change the NCAA rules to allow the Big Ten and the Pac-10 to have a MANDATORY CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP.

Other than that, it is a good start. I have never known a #5 team worthy of a shot at the National Championship. Maybe there are #3s and 4s who don’t deserve it either but I think those things would be worked out in the two game to be played.

.

Gatorzone

April 23rd, 2009
10:31 am

m, what are you so mad about? did you forget the “thank God and Greyhound Gailey is gone” line?

Otto

April 23rd, 2009
10:31 am

Mony, what happens when Utah plays say a ACC champ and wins. OU plays someone in the Fiesta wins and UF wins the Sugar? You still have voters who can select the game we had and still leave out Utah or one of the 2 teams that played in very tough fought matchup sitting at home.

Call 'em like I see 'em

April 23rd, 2009
10:33 am

Yes, I *DO* think having an extra game against a top tier oppontent would change the on field results from a few years where teams played close games. USC was a better team than Texas in 2005; they were overconfident and got a few bad breaks. Taking nothing from Texas, I believe if they played again or in a series, USC would win out. It’s all hype-pathetical anyway… nothing is changing, and nothing should. A plus one in this format creates a lot of rematches that shouldn’t be played.

Tails from The Swamp

April 23rd, 2009
10:34 am

Hey Tony, since so many of these fans want a playoff so badly, why don’t we just START with a playoff and include EVERY team and forget about the regular games and rivalrys and and all those things that don’t really matter. That way you don’t have to be worrying about altering schedules or having to modify the system later or somebody being left out.

G8R GRAD

April 23rd, 2009
10:40 am

Voice of Reason:
“Utah could never have beaten Florida and you know it. They got lucky and caught Bammer by surprise.”

HOW, pray tell, did UF catch UA by SURPRISE?!! We were steamrolling every team we played after our loss to Ole Miss and we beat the Tide on a neutral field – without Percy Harvin!

If anyone caught Sabin & Co. by surprise, it was the UTES!

G8R GRAD

April 23rd, 2009
10:42 am

Sorry Nick, I meant S-A-B-A-N.