Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

How I Would Reorganize College Football….. Part I: Intro

In College Football, Realignment on October 9, 2011 at 12:36 AM

I started writing this for suggestions of some additional changes to the conference “alignments”. But with this interest that many seem to have in the idea of 16-team conferences, I wondered how popular this idea could get. I know there are a variety of interests at play here, and it would be hard to get them to work together, but I’m mostly just imagining what I would do if I were appointed czar of college football.

I know that’s not going to happen, but as someone who frequently criticizes the powers that be, I thought I would put my own proposal out there. It comes across as cynical grumbling otherwise. But I’m not complaining because I like complaining, I’m complaining because I’d sincerely like there to be a better system, and I know I’m not alone.

For the record, I’m opposed to most of the expansion ideas because one wouldn’t really be in a conference with teams in the other division. It would just be a guaranteed quasi-playoff opponent at the end of the season. But as czar of college football, I would be an enlightened despot. If the people petitioned me through their AD’s and college presidents, I would listen.

Besides, if you did it for all of the guaranteed BCS/playoff spots, it could be good because (1) there would be fewer such spots, (2) more teams could play for those spots, and (3) there would be a more uniform process of playing for those spots.

I think the first two arguments are evident, but I’ll give some more explanation for the third. The Big East is an 8-team conference and the team with the best record in the seven conference games is named the champion. 12-team conferences play either 8 or 9 games just to determine the division winners, and then an additional game is played between the division winners. There are more hurdles in getting there from a 12-team conference, even if you assume equal competition.

Something else I dislike about the expansion/realignment talk is the idea that a conference should add one or two teams in another region in order to generate great recruiting and revenue. Meanwhile, the argument seems to go, natural and traditional rivals should be discarded if they conflict. So for instance, the Big East can have teams from Connecticut to Florida to Texas (thankfully it looks like Texas won’t happen after all), the formerly Big XII can have teams from Kentucky (suggested) to Utah (suggested) to Iowa, and the ACC can teams from Boston to Miami to somewhere inland yet to be determined (Pittsburgh, but maybe farther West). Who cares if it makes sense for the team from Boston to play the team from Connecticut or the team from Miami to play the team from Tampa? They’ll just have to try to squeeze it into the ever-dwindling non-conference schedule. I didn’t even mention the WAC (Manoa, HI, to Ruston, LA, to Moscow, ID), the CUSA (El Paso to Huntington, WV, to Orlando), the Mountain West (San Diego to Boise to Ft. Collins, CO), or the Sun Belt (Denton, TX, to Bowling Green, KY, to Miami).

There is sometimes some conflict between traditional and natural rivalries. South Florida (the Tampa team I mentioned) and Connecticut haven’t had major football programs for very long. Even though they’re about as far away in terms of latitude as any two teams are, there is some history between Boston College and U. Miami. But I tried to balance those concerns. I don’t know the history of every individual rivalry but in an effort to be comprehensive, I put each team somewhere.

What I’ve done is put 80 teams into one of 5 16-team BCS-like conferences. The remaining 40 teams (ones that aren’t as good) have been put into one of 4 10-team conferences.

Producing a playoff

My ideal would be to find a way to turn that into 8 playoff teams. The 10-team conferences could either produce one or two of those teams, and there could be one or two at-large teams.

I would not only have a way for those bottom 40 programs to win the national championship, but I would also come up with a system where the best of those teams, at least the top two would be allowed to move up and two other teams would be allowed to move down, sort of a European soccer league arrangement.

The catch is having so many potential playoff games after a 9-game schedule. My solution would be that there wouldn’t be any extra games for those teams, or there might be one. Even if there is a 4-team play-in system to be the best of the worst followed by three more potential playoff games, that would be a total of 5 post-season games. 5 + 9 =14, which is accepted as appropriate (most teams already play up to 14 games, factoring in possible conference championship, bowl games, and trips to Hawaii {I’m not being facetious, that’s actually an exception to the 12-game limit}). There could also be an 8-game conference schedule instead (the team that isn’t played can be drawn out of a hat), and maybe just one play-in game, so that would allow two additional teams to be played. And since that 14th game is so unrealistic, a third game outside of the system could also be allowed.

The schedules for the top 80 teams wouldn’t really change much. My proposal would be that they play the 7 other divisional opponents, along with one inter-divisional rival (I think an even number of home and away games is fairer; the tie-breaker system could be adjusted for inequalities that might result). And playing 8 such games instead of 9 allows three games outside of the system without risking a team having to play more than 14 games. I wouldn’t prohibit other inter-divisional games, they just wouldn’t count toward the division title.

As to which teams move down from the top 80 after the season, there could be anything from something completely objective, like a combination of computer formulas or something more transparently mathematical, to something completely subjective like a NCAA-basketball-like committee that evaluates strengths and weaknesses. There could even be a short playoff to determine who those teams are.

Next Blog… Part 2: SEC/Southern Conference

I’ll try to write these weekly until completion, but I’ve only really had time for one non-rankings blog a week, so if other things come up, they might cause me to spread it out a little more. I’ve done the second part already, but I knew the blog had gotten too long for many people to realistically read everything I’ve written so far on this topic.

Week 5 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 2, 2011 at 10:40 PM

Took me most of the day, but I got it all done finally. I am a little disappointed because I feel like it’s a step back from what I was doing with the subjective rankings (I’ll explain), but it was finally at the point where it was too hard to do a fair subjective ranking anyway. I had the teams arranged in a pretty neat way with the winning teams ahead of the losing teams, but now that’s gotten more complicated. It makes a lot less sense to have Temple between Penn St. and Maryland, for instance, and there is of course the triangle of impossibility with South Florida beating Notre Dame, who beat Pitt, who beat South Florida (handily). Those are just a couple of examples where I thought, “What would I do with this information?”

I don’t see any glaring errors (although I was able to find some), but there usually are some mistakes at this point. Let me know if anything seems ridiculously out of place (like an undefeated team being 80th or a team with one win being 40th or something of that nature). I have one area where I type in the record and another area where wins go in one set of columns and losses go in another, so if that doesn’t match up, it causes really strange results. Sometimes the ratings comparison gives me a heads up when I realize I have the highest or lowest ranking for a given team.

I wish teams with respectable losses were higher (and undefeated teams with bad schedules were lower), but it will come around. Right now in most cases if you have on loss, you’re 25% behind in the winning percentage. Two losses, you’re probably 50% behind or at least 40% behind. When it gets to be more like a 10 or 15% difference with each loss, that will allow some of the good record/poor schedule teams to move down.

These rankings are made with the emphasis on having the top 5 to 10 teams in the right order at the end of the season. I give teams some amount of credit based on winning FCS games, and it depends in part on that team’s record. It doesn’t amount to much at the end of the season, but with 1/3 to 1/5 of opponents being FCS for a lot of teams, it does count for more now, so there can be some weird results because of that. Also, if a team has a bye week and an FCS opponent at this point, that makes it more likely that team has gotten by without playing anyone. So even if it’s a team that will likely finish with 4 or 5 wins, they might look good mathematically right now. So not only do my ratings not predict future events, but future events are needed in order to make my ratings look better.

This also isn’t a good barometer yet for teams that have played and lost tough games. Oregon, for instance, would have been better off beating another FCS team than losing to LSU. The Ducks only have intra-subdivision wins over Nevada and Arizona. The only reason Oregon is as high as they are is because Nevada has had a good schedule. I don’t think Arizona will finish winless against FBS teams, so when they win a game, that will pick the Ducks up a little more, and Nevada’s record should improve at least to the vicinity of .500.

The system’s limitations on giving Oregon its due have also affected LSU. In the by-the-numbers ratings, LSU is 4th because the only win that comes across as being of very high quality is West Virginia. Along with Oregon, Mississippi St. doesn’t count for too much because the Bulldogs have only beaten Memphis and Louisiana Tech (in OT at home, which gives Miss. St. even less credit). But again, if they turn their record around and get some wins of higher quality, this will help out LSU.

I treat #1 as a special case, and as is typical, I leave the team I have at #1 unless there is something at least troubling that happens. An example is the game USC nearly lost at Washington in 2007 (the Trojans won, 27-24, and lost to Stanford the next week). LSU just beat Kentucky 35-7, with the 7 coming as the last score of the game, so nothing troubling there. And as I just explained, I think they’ve beaten quality teams, it just hasn’t come across in the numbers yet. But my ratings site is always going to be the exact numbers the formula gives me.

I’ll at least leave LSU there for a few weeks unless I think the team that rates #1 is either equally deserving or more deserving. If LSU loses, that will also cause me to lean toward the by-the-numbers #1. Not only do the Tigers face Florida next week, but Oregon will play Cal and Arizona St. in the next two weeks. Mississippi St. faces UAB (not a good team, but a needed chance for an FBS win) and South Carolina. Getting into the conference schedule already helps out the stronger conferences in general.

Well, here it is, just keep the things I just said in mind.

Full ratings site
(1-120) {or see the “Ratings Site” tab above}

Top 25:
rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Michigan 6
3 Clemson 4
4 Alabama 2
5 Illinois 19
6 Texas —
7 Oklahoma 3
8 Boise St. 12
9 Ga. Tech —
10 Wisconsin —
11 S Carolina 5
12 Okie St. 7
13 Nebraska 11
14 Kansas St. 18
15 Stanford —
16 N.Carolina —
17 Auburn —
18 Va. Tech —
19 Houston —
20 Washington 25
21 W Virginia 17
22 S. Florida 9
23 Texas Tech —
24 USC 21
25 Florida 10

Out of rankings: (8) Baylor, (13) TCU, (14) Penn St., (15) Oregon, (16) Temple, (20) Arizona St., (22) Notre Dame, (23) Maryland, (24) U. Miami

Prior rankings:

Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1