For the fifth consecutive year, I am going to offer my two cents to the NCAA about establishing a playoff in the NCAA Division 1-A (aka FBS) level.
1. To provide EVERY team in August the legitimate chance of earning the national championship (see Northern Illinois, Boise State, Utah State, Arkansas State, Tulsa, ...)
2. To make as many teams' final game as possible a meaningful game. In other words, not a pointless exhibition....I mean bowl game. (See Pitt playing in their 3rd straight BBVA Compass Bowl, Louisville vs. Florida, N. Illinois vs. Florida State, ...)
**Note: This is NOT an NCAA basketball bracket where you could have a tourney pick'em. Rather each round gets re-seeded much like the NFL and other leagues do
Here is the proposals from the past four years:
Here's what I originally devised by taking last year's template:
|Original 2012 BCS Playoff Proposal. |
Conference champions/championships in yellow. At-large in green (top 2) and blue (3-5).
However, here's what I ended up with:
|Final Proposal for 2012 BCS Playoff Bracket. Conference champions/championships in yellow. At-large in blue (top 5) and green (6-7).|
Below will be all the details, but ultimately it didn't sit well with me that in the original bracket it seemed that Florida had an easier path than the two teams in the SEC Championship (Alabama and Georgia). So, because of this (and the fact that last year I ignored the fact that the Big 12 didn't have a conference championship game), I expanded the at-large teams from 4 to 7. The teams with the first round "bye" were ONLY teams that won a BCS conference (Big 12 and Big East) or were playing in their conference championship).
So, here goes year five as if it happened this year (and plan on scrolling back to the playoff bracket multiple times--I've also placed it at the bottom of the proposal also)...
Saturday, November 17: Completion of regular season the weekend before Thanksgiving (12 weeks) – Non-BCS conferences can decide to complete their regular season in week 11 and hold a conference championship on 11/17 or they can determine their conference champion by record. That allows for a 10 or 11 game schedule leading into the playoff.
Sunday, November 18: BCS Playoff Pairings Announcement
BCS Conference Championships (Nov 29-Dec 1):
ACC: Florida State vs Georgia Tech
Big Ten: Wisconsin vs Nebraska
Pac-12: Stanford vs UCLA
SEC: Alabama vs Florida
Louisville (Big East) and Kansas State (Big 12) also advance to December 1 weekend because of winning their respective conference championship.
Five non-BCS conference champions (in order of ranking from BCS or computer rankings)
A - Northern Illinois (MAC)
B - Boise State (MWC)
C - Utah State (WAC)
D - Arkansas State (Sun Belt)
E - Tulsa (Conference USA)
Seven at large teams that were not conference champions (as determined from BCS rankings before conference championships)
1. Notre Dame (1)
2. Florida (4)
3. Oregon (5)
4. LSU (7)
5. Texas A&M (9)
6. South Carolina (10)
7. Oklahoma (11)
Matchups would be 1-E, 2-D, 3-C, 4-B, 5-A, and 7-6 with the conference champions as the home team (6-7 either at the site of at-large 6 or a neutral site)
November 22-24 (Thanksgiving weekend) - Opening round (with conference championships and second round to be the next weekend)
According to 2012 data, it would be:
Notre Dame (AL1) at Tulane (CUSA)
Florida (AL2) at Arkansas State (Sun Belt)
Oregon (AL3) at Utah State (WAC)
LSU (AL4) at Boise State (MWC)
Texas A&M (AL5) at Northern Illinois (MAC)
Oklahoma (AL7) vs. South Carolina (AL6)
The winners of this round would advance to the second round (which is also the weekend of the conference championships). Teams would be re-seeded so the highest-ranked (at-large/non-BCS conference) team left, according to BCS rankings prior to the conference championships, would play the lowest seeded, etc.
November 29-December 1 - Conference Championship Games and Second Round of At-Large/Non-BCS Conference Games.
In addition to the previously mentioned four conference championship games on November 29-Dec 1 (as they were this year),
ACC: Florida State vs Georgia Tech
Big Ten: Wisconsin vs Nebraska
Pac-12: Stanford vs UCLA
SEC: Alabama vs Florida
the following games would be played (if seeds held):
Notre Dame (AL1; #1 BCS) at Big East Champion Louisville (Not in BCS rankings but #52 in Sagarin rankings)
LSU (AL4; #7 BCS) at Big 12 Champion Kansas State (#6 BCS)
Texas A&M (AL5; #9 BCS) vs Oregon (AL3; #5 BCS)
South Carolina (AL6; #10 BCS) vs Florida (AL2; #4 BCS)
Conference champions, Louisville and Kansas State, earn home games. Additionally, if Northern Illinois, Boise State, Utah State, etc. would win the first round game, they would earn a second round home game.
December 8 - Quarterfinals
The winners would advance to a round of 8 the weekend of December 8, with the seeds being lined up 1-8, 4-5, 3-6, 2-7. Conference champions would get home-field advantage over an at-large team. If seeds held, it would be:
1 Notre Dame at 8 Wisconsin
4 Oregon at 5 Kansas State
3 Florida at 6 Stanford
7 Florida State at 2 Alabama
The semi-finals could be around Christmas or New Years and the Championship the week after. The semi-final round would be like the AFC-NFC Championship Sunday.
Then, around New Year's Day or the week after, a TRUE championship game could be held where no team could claim they didn't have a shot at winning a championship.
|Final Proposal for 2012 BCS Playoff Bracket. Conference champions/championships in yellow. At-large in blue (top 5) and blue (6-7).|
The more I think about what this would do to bowl games, the more I feel that it wouldn't affect them. In this model as of December 1, only 8 teams remain in the playoff, so all the bowls could be filled. Also, perhaps there could be automatic tie-ins with bowls for the 4 losers of the December 8 quarterfinal games.
ANALYSIS OF 2012 BRACKET CONSTRUCTION
The Fighting Irish...
First of all, Notre Dame's resurgence threw a wrench into my previous years' brackets. In the past, I just threw them in with the Big East, not expecting Notre Dame to bolt from the Big East for being partially affiliated with the ACC. Additionally, I wasn't expecting the Big East to become more of a joke (Tulane and East Carolina, really?). Finally, I was not anticipating Notre Dame to get good again so quickly. So, that was a major reason to revise the overall template of the bracket.
...the Big 12, Big East, the future
Also, along with the Big East, since the Big 12 was not having a conference championship in the near future plus more conference realignment on the horizon (see Maryland, Rutgers, Louisville, etc.) there needed to be more flexibility in the bracket.
Expansion to more at-large teams
While it might have been fair to give the Fighting Irish a bye to the "2nd round" in the bracket since they are rated #1 in the country, I couldn't justify giving Florida an easier path for NOT being in their conference championship (see original bracket). So, began the "expansion" of my bracket to seven at-large teams, and 22 overall.
Was this too many? Well, I checked the other divisions that DO have actual playoffs--I-AA (FCS), II, and III--and here's what I found:
In Division I-AA, there are currently 20 teams with 10 receiving automatic berths from winning a conference championship and the other 10 receiving at-large bids as determined by a "committee." In 2013, it is going to expand to 11 automatic berths from conference championships and 13 at large for a total of 24 teams. The top 8 teams will receive first round byes. The playoff lasts from November 24th to a semifinal December 15th with a championship on January 5th.
In Division II, there are 24 teams with 8 in a first-round play-in on November 17th with the finals on December 15th.
In Division III, there are 32 teams with the first round on November 17th and the championship on December 14th.
My playoff bracket proposal for Division I-A (FCS) seems in line with the dates and amount of teams as the "other" divisions who are (allegedly) more concerned about the student-athlete with their academics and not missing classes.
Home game for the "little-guy"
While it's intrigued me in the past, I think the first round match-ups this year are even more intriguing than in previous years' brackets. Notre Dame at Tulsa (who just hosted a Conference USA Championship), LSU going to the Smurf Turf at Boise State, Oregon having to go to a fellow western school (Utah State - is that at elevation?), Texas A&M maybe being the underdog at Northern Illinois(?). And, if a non-BCS conference champ would win their first-round game, they would receive another home game in the second round (and the same for moving on to the quarterfinal). Imagine the money that would bring in for their athletic department to have one, two, or three additional nationally-televised home games.
Would these schools be able to put on a home game in that short of notice? It happens in all of the other divisions so I don't see why not.
One question still out there for me is what to do if/when two at-large teams meet up in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. Play it at the site of the higher-ranked team? Play it at a neutral site? I'm all for giving the highest incentive to play in your conference championship game (unlike in the NCAA basketball tournament)
Little Guy's Last Game
One other note, would Utah State rather finish against Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl or try their best against #4 Oregon?
Boise State - versus Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl or hosting #8 LSU?
Arkansas State - facing Kent State in the GoDaddy.com bowl or trying to knock off #3 Florida at home?
Northern Illinois being questioned for being in a BCS Bowl game or showing whether or not they belong in a home game against Texas A&M?
Would Tulsa rather play Iowa State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl or have a shot at taking down the undefeated, #1 team in the country on their home field?
Northern game for southern team?
It didn't play out yet again in this year's bracket model either, but I'd love to see the SEC powerhouses have to play on the road in a northern stadium in the snow in December.
The SEC is too good?
The SEC is having a great year. Like 6 of the top 10 (and 7 of 14) in the final BCS rankings great type of year. However, BCS rules state that a conference cannot have three teams in BCS bowl games. So, Georgia (who was the #3 team in the country before losing the SEC Championship game) is relegated to the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska. What a let down.
The playoff bracket would solve that. While 4 of the 7 at-large teams were from the SEC, maybe they deserved it. If the SEC teams were THAT good, they could command 4 of the 8 quarterfinal spots and 3 of the 4 semi-final spots in my proposed bracket. Let the games, not opinions, determine how good they are.
The one obstacle I have in creating the bracket is I'm taking 2012 data from three separate time periods - before the conference championship games (for at-large seeding), after the conference championship games (for non-BCS champion berths and seeding plus BCS conference championship results), and how the results affect the computers and pollsters at these points both before AND after. So, don't get too tied up on where a team is in the bracket, it's more of the process.
So that's my suggestion to send along to NCAA President Emmert (...still need to get around to voicing my displeasure to Mr. Emmert about the severity of the Penn State sanctions, but I'll save that for a future date).
All constructive feedback and dialogue is certainly welcome (please withhold all name-calling and negative, destructive comments for the next presidential election).