Three non-automatic bowl-qualifying teams (Boise State, TCU, and Utah) rank in the top five of the BCS standings. How did they get there? In two words – liberal politics. Few would argue against the idea that many fans, voters, and even a number of players and coaches want the Bowl Championship Series of college football to change. Some may even say that the change people want includes the incorporation of a playoff system by which something like the top four to sixteen ranked FBS teams play for the “right” to compete in a new kind of post season “college football national championship series.” Whom does not want to see the “Cinderellas” (Boise State, TCU, and Utah) of college football make it to the ballroom dance? Me. Do not excuse me for being politically incorrect on this issue because I am not ashamed.
I see it like this:
What teams benefit most from a weak strength of schedule and playoff system?
The Boise States, TCUs, and Utahs of the FBS because they get to cakewalk entire regular seasons (Boise State especially because at least TCU and Utah play each other), unchallenged, and then those teams have the best opportunity to get consecutive playoff berths in weak conferences every year. That translates into fresh, and virtually uninjured, players walking into what “should be” like a regular season schedule, in the post season, ready to play for the right to be called number one, on neutral fields, against teams who have to play “lights out” versus quality opponents week-in and week-out.
I would politic for the equivalent of twelve “cupcake” games, over what should be a competitive regular season schedule, and then compete for a championship game too if I were Boise State, TCU, or Utah. Let everyone else beat the heck out of each other and then play them fresh when they are battered and bruised. Why would I want to change a schedule that I dominate if I can change the entire system to my advantage? Not having to play in a competitive conference makes a weak conference schedule an advantage in a playoff system. Experience without injury and consistent exposure without challenge sounds great!
If, the best non-automatic qualifiers are not to blame for their regular season schedules then who is to blame?
Leaders no longer take accountability for being innovative, I guess. Non-AQ teams can be creative with their non-conference games. Boise State, TCU, and Utah do not respect the tradition of football if any of those programs point fingers at teams in other conferences and suggest that the other teams are “scared”. If non-AQ teams understand that the strength of schedule is as important to the season as post-season play then they can adapt to the expectation of a competitive league to fix what they can control. The “right” to play for the title “Champion” depends on many variables. Nothing has ever prevented Boise State, TCU, and Utah from establishing a round robin contest, out-of-conference, every year to boost each other’s strength of schedule and propel one to compete with the “big boys” in a NCG. This is one type of solution that none of these teams have come together to do and I hold them all accountable for what they can control.
If college football were to integrate a playoff system into the existing framework, would that system really be able to crown the “best” college football team every year?
The only real “honest” way to “fix” college football is to restructure the entire system on a national scale. That means tearing down the history and tradition that made the game what it is today and building up an entirely new system. According to certain principles in Statistics, every FBS team should have the equal opportunity to play every other FBS team. Establishing ten, twelve team conferences (or the like) and running a lottery to supply every conference with twelve random teams would meet the goal of establishing non-biased conferences. Furthermore, randomly selecting in-conference and out-of-conference schedules would also further establish un-biasness. Doing this process every year would also contribute to “fair”.
Again, those who cry about Boise State, TCU, and Utah not making it to the final game, in the existing system, do not realize that “making the system fair” does not automatically translate into a system that anyone wants to have or is willing to pay for.
Could a playoff system be fairer?
No. Bias is like sin, either a system is bias or a system is unbiased. Changing the existing system to a playoff system means that the same politics that we see manifest now, the distribution of PC points/charity/speculation to validate unproven-undefeated teams, only gets worse as the change in bias goes from historically dominant teams and schedules to favoring teams that do not have to prove themselves to succeed. The longest part of any season is, and should be, the regular season. Flashy teams that require speculation because they lack the regular season grind do not get my sympathy. I fail to see how decreasing standards promotes the growth and competitiveness of college football. I could say the same about our system of education in the United States too.
The net result:
A number of those who have the power to pervert the existing BCS system are blatantly exploiting the deficiencies in the system this year. Advertising the fact that the existing system is exploitable does not take the bias out of the sport. Forcing change without a consensus plan is ignorant. Moreover, slapping a playoff system onto the end of a system that people have perverted does not solve the problem either.
Continue to penalize the schools who can control their schedules for maintaining weak non-conference schedules. (Two out of four strong non-conference games is not acceptable for a team with a weak conference schedule. Boise State, for example, could have scheduled Virginia Tech, Nevada/Oregon State, TCU, and Utah this year. If not, then they could have/should have done something else. Boise State has been complaining for over five years now. Some leaders complain about what they cannot accomplish, great leaders get it done.) Educate the football public on the inherent bias in the existing system (currently happening). Perform a market analysis to see if the national football public is willing to exchange their football history and tradition for the incorporation of a non-bias system that tares down the existing infrastructure of their conferences and establishes an entirely new “fair” experience (worst impact, the SEC). Is the football public willing to pay for such the new kind of system?
Margin of victory over competitive teams, 21 vs. Stanford and 21 vs. USC. Regular season opponents record to date 42-54.
Margin of victory over competitive teams, 3 vs. Mississippi State, 3 vs. Clemson, 8 vs. South Carolina, 22 vs. Arkansas, and 7 vs. LSU. Regular season opponents record to date 60-39.
Margin of victory over competitive teams, 9 vs. Oregon State, 35 vs. Baylor, and 31 vs. Air Force. Regular season opponents record to date 48-52.
4. Boise State:
Margin of victory over competitive teams, 3 vs. Virginia Tech and 13 vs. Oregon State. Regular season opponents record to date 49-49.
Margin of victory over competitive teams, 3 vs. Pittsburg and 5 vs. Air Force. Regular season opponents record to date 44-59.
6. Alabama (1 loss vs. 5-2 South Carolina by 14):
Margin of victory over competitive teams, 21 vs. Penn State, 4 vs. Arkansas, and 25 vs. Florida. Regular season opponents record to date 54-42.
7. Nebraska (1 loss vs. 4-4 Texas by 7):
Margin of victory over competitive teams, 10 vs. Oklahoma State and 14 vs. Missouri. Regular season opponents record to date 49-48.
8. Oklahoma (1 loss vs. 7-1 Missouri by 9):
Margin of victory over competitive teams, 30 vs. Florida State and 3 vs. Air Force. Regular season opponents record to date 58-41.
9. Wisconsin (1 loss vs. 8-1 Michigan State by 10):
Margin of victory over competitive teams, 13 vs. Ohio State and 1 vs. Iowa. Regular season opponents record to date 50-50.
10. LSU (1 loss vs. 9-0 Auburn by 7):
Margin of victory over competitive teams, 6 vs. UNC, 22 vs. Mississippi State, 6 vs. West Virginia, and 4 vs. Florida. Regular season opponents record to date 59-39.
My top 10:
1. Auburn – Most quality wins, most difficult schedule
2. Oregon – Most points per game, worst schedule among automatic qualifiers to date
3. LSU – Jekyll and Hyde defense to offense, not pretty, but only 1 loss to Auburn, and second most difficult schedule among top 10
4. Wisconsin – Two very impressive wins and an average schedule
5. Alabama – Third most difficult schedule, defending national champions, and 3 good wins
6. TCU – Undefeated, poor schedule, good points per game, two explosive wins plus one good win vs. all marginal teams.
7. Boise State – Undefeated, poor schedule, good points per game, two marginal wins vs. one good (VT) and one marginal team.
8. Oklahoma – Consistent and good schedule among top ten teams, one very impressive win vs. a good team (FSU) and one marginal win vs. a marginal team.
9. Nebraska – Two very impressive wins vs. very good teams and one loss vs. a sub-par Texas team.
10. Utah – Undefeated, two marginal wins over two marginal teams, and a poor schedule.