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Posts Tagged ‘BCS’

SEC Bowls: LSU and Florida Should Go Ahead of Auburn

In Bowls, College Football, College Football Playoff, General LSU, Rankings Commentary on November 29, 2016 at 7:16 PM

*In an earlier version I neglected to mention Florida’s loss to Arkansas.*

Most bowl projection sites that I looked at over the past few days have Auburn going to the Sugar and Florida going to the Citrus. I hope ESPN’s Greg Ostendorf is right and LSU gets the Citrus (you can see his other projections as well), which would be a just result for my Tigers in my humble opinion. It would not be fair to Florida, but Florida is not exactly on my good side right now. So while personally I would not feel aggrieved as long as LSU is in the Sugar or Citrus, it still bothers me as someone who values fairness and logical consistency that Auburn would go ahead of either team.

In the new College Football Playoff (CFP) standings, Auburn is ahead of BOTH LSU and Florida.

It’s important to note that the Sugar Bowl and the SEC get no input. The Sugar is contractually bound to pick the best available SEC team in the College Football Playoff standings. It appears that unless Florida wins (or loses so valiantly that they move up), Auburn will go to the Sugar Bowl. It’s also possible that a Clemson loss could negatively affect Auburn.

How the SEC bowl selection process works.  For this year, it is assumed that only one SEC team will be in the top 4 and that the Cotton Bowl will not select an SEC team.

How the SEC bowl selection process works. For this year, it is assumed that only one SEC team will be in the top 4 and that the Cotton Bowl will not select an SEC team.

It will be very frustrating if LSU ties both Auburn and Florida in losses but falls below the top three SEC bowl slots (CFP semifinal which is all but guaranteed to Alabama, Sugar which will likely go to Auburn, and Citrus which will was previously projected to go to Florida).

I won’t be one to complain if Florida makes the Sugar Bowl, but LSU should at least get the Citrus (once known as the CapitalOne) Bowl over Auburn. I like my formula and if it were followed, LSU would also be out of the SEC top 3, but that’s not how this or similar systems have historically worked.

The way LSU is being treated is not in keeping with fair play. For instance, when LSU lost to Alabama, the Tigers fell 11 spots. Auburn just fell ONE spot even though they lost to the Tide by 8 more points than LSU did. That more than accounts for the current gap between Auburn and LSU of 7 spots. If Florida loses to Alabama, I’m guessing the Gators won’t fall 11 spots either.

CFP rankings after Alabama defeated LSU.  Florida was unranked.

CFP rankings after Alabama defeated LSU. Florida was unranked.

The three relevant teams in the current CFP rankings.

The three relevant teams in the current CFP rankings.

I know the argument is that if you lose to a team no matter how close it was, that team should go ahead if there is any ambiguity, but I think that’s wrong. It’s better to lose to the top 3 teams in the conference than it is to lose only one of the top 3 and to two 4-4 teams (Texas A&M and Georgia). In the whole season and despite the rocky start, LSU has only lost to one team that was not a division winner (Wisconsin won its division as well), and that was the road game against Auburn in September when the clock apparently expired to take what would have been the winning points off the board.

How does ending a season like Auburn did put you in the Sugar Bowl? Florida would also end with two losses, but I think ending with two losses in regular season conference play is worse than rivalry game on the road (against a team the committee tells us is better than anyone in the SEC but Alabama) followed by conference championship against the #1 team in the nation. Florida won’t fall to 5-3 in conference with a loss; they’d fall to 6-3 against SEC teams. Again, I have no problem with Florida getting the Sugar. The Gators played in a lesser division; but they did beat all but one team in that division (losing on the road to Tennessee early in the year), and they will finish with a better record in conference.

There are multiple reasons my ratings look at things differently than bowl consideration has typically done.

The first that I touched on was how close the games were. LSU was less than a yard short of beating Florida and less than a second short of beating Auburn. I don’t give them any credit for that. I also don’t give them any credit for playing Alabama closes than anyone has since Ole Miss. By the way, make a mental note of that for when I talk about teams playing differently at different times of the season.

The second is that LSU has played one fewer game (I don’t think we need to go into why), but that has not historically been a reason to penalize a team. I don’t think anyone would question that LSU would have beaten South Alabama in a home game 10 days ago.

The third difference, which I already touched on, is I don’t give any benefit or penalty for recent versus early-season games.

I know it’s a completely different group of people, but the football committee is intentionally designed to be similar to the basketball committee. No one would question that if Team A’s only losses in the two months leading up to selection day were to two top-15 teams that Team A would go ahead of Team B who had the same record but who lost to one team in common and then lost to another team that wasn’t even in the top 40. Team B’s win over Team A earlier in the year would not overcome that.

This is another apparent difference from basketball. When there is a dramatic change—and there was a dramatic change in what kind of team LSU was, at least when they weren’t playing a really good rushing defense—you consider the team that is going to actually be playing much more than the team otherwise.

I’m just not seeing the logic unless they’re using my ratings as part of the formula and not telling me. If they are, LSU shouldn’t have fallen much after losing to Alabama though. Maybe they just started using it? I wonder if I got an email about that. I should check my junk mail more thoroughly.

It would be great if it were the case, but computers aren’t unanimous either. I’ll take the BCS ratings one at a time. One difference from mine is they tend to measure whether the team and its opponents are on the upswing or downswing.

Anderson and Hester: (17) Florida, (24) Auburn, (26) LSU
Billingsley: (14) Florida, (16) LSU, (31) Auburn
Colley: (19) Florida, (22) Auburn, (24) LSU
Massey: (14) LSU, (15) Auburn, (20) Florida
Wolfe: (18) Florida, (21) LSU, (24) Auburn
Sagarin: (8) LSU, (13) Auburn, (24) Florida
LSU average: 18.17 (2 first places among the three teams)
Florida average: 18.67 (4 first places among the three teams)
Auburn average: 21.5

I can see Florida just getting a freebie loss to Alabama since neither Auburn nor LSU has to play this weekend and someone saying it’s close enough given the other factors to give Florida the Sugar, but there is no good objective measure to justify putting Auburn first.

Is it because they have a more interesting offense than either LSU or Florida? If that’s the most important factor, how in the world is Washington State not even ranked? Put the Cougars ahead of all three by that measure. Also, Auburn’s offense hasn’t even been interesting lately. LSU scored 54 in the last game, and in the last three SEC games combined Auburn has only scored 42. So it’s best offense in October then? Ridiculous.

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Week 12 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 17, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher when Fisher was Saban's offensive coordinator at LSU.

Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher when Fisher was Saban’s offensive coordinator at LSU.

There are 40 teams total that got at least some level of “Mock BCS” points, so you can follow the link below to find them all.

My Top 25
My Rank/BCS/team/prev
1 ( 2 ) Alabama 4
2 ( 1 ) Florida St. 3
3 ( 3 ) Oregon 2
4 ( 7 ) Ohio St. 10
5 ( 4 ) Miss. St. 1
6 ( 8 ) Ole Miss 5
7 ( 5 ) TCU 9
8 ( 10 ) UCLA 6
9 ( 19 ) Marshall 13
10 ( 9 ) Georgia 21
11 ( 14 ) Auburn 7
12 ( 28 ) Boise St. 15
13 ( 17 ) Ga. Tech 22
14 ( 23 ) Colo. St. 11
15 ( 15 ) Arizona 20
16 ( 6 ) Baylor 14
17 ( 11 ) Mich. St. 24
18 ( 13 ) Arizona St. 8
19 ( 22 ) Nebraska 12
Wisconsin head
20 ( 16 ) Wisconsin —
21 ( 12 ) Kansas St. 19
22 ( 18 ) Missouri —
23 ( 21 ) Oklahoma —
24 ( 30 ) Clemson 23
25 ( 24 ) USC —

(Utah and LSU are the two Mock BCS top 25 teams who are not in my top 25.)

Full Rankings 1-128

Out of top 25: (16) Notre Dame, (17) Duke, (18) LSU, (25) TX A&M

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11

Comments

I have serious reservations about both Alabama and Florida St.; but it’s the right thing, at least at this point, for both to be the top 2 teams. Alabama has had major issues with playing on the road (one-point win over Arkansas, virtual loss to LSU, actual loss to Ole Miss), although they don’t have any road games left. Florida St. has too; but it’s been a more general pattern of slow starts on both sides of the ball, followed by quick scores that the opposition offenses can’t keep up with.

Last week, I mentioned that it was possible for both Mississippi St. and Alabama to be in the top 4 with a Tide win over the Bulldogs. This would have happened were it not for another team I didn’t anticipate making the top 4, Ohio St.

A few things came together to help this happen. Even though the Gophers were unranked, that still counts as a good win. The fact that TCU escaped against Kansas on Saturday helped that to continue to count as a good win. (TCU beat Minnesota out of conference.) As I discussed last week in reference to Arizona St./Notre Dame, the effects of those out-of-conference results are huge.

If Minnesota lost to Michigan St., for instance, that would be positive for some Big Ten teams and negative for others, but it wouldn’t have a huge impact on the conference overall. Out-of-conference results have a uniformly positive or negative effect though. If 8 or 9 games you play are made to look better or worse, that makes a big difference.

Ohio St.’s strength of schedule was also assisted by Virginia Tech’s win over Duke. Losses hurt more than wins help, so if another loss had been added to Virginia Tech, that would have continued to weigh Ohio St. down. Instead, the Hokies’ ability to beat another pretty good team makes the loss not hurt so much.

Another factor that helped Ohio St. was Navy’s win over Georgia Southern. I’m not going to pretend Georgia Southern is a great team, but they have 7 FBS wins, so that’s a positive for Navy, which Ohio St. beat earlier in the year.

A big game for the Big Ten in general was Notre Dame/Northwestern. Not only was that a big win for a Big Ten team, but it also damaged what had been a quality opponent for Pac-12 and ACC teams.

Despite Northwestern taking even more of the luster off of Florida St.’s win over Notre Dame, the Seminoles were still able to move into #2 after a quality win that coincided with an Oregon bye week. Ohio St. was a little too far behind to challenge the ’Noles either.

The winner of Ole Miss and Mississippi St. still has a good chance to move into the top 4, particularly if Alabama loses to Auburn. If Ole Miss (@ Arkansas) and Mississippi St. (vs. Vanderbilt) win next week, this would mean that Alabama would be shut out of the SEC championship game.

The way my system operates, it’s a disadvantage not to be in the conference-championship game at the end of the year. This is one reason Alabama did not rate as highly in my system as it did in the BCS in 2011, for instance.

I mentioned TCU earlier. It’s not looking good for the Big XII in my system.

It would take a major group of losses by top teams for the Horned Frogs (currently #7) to move up significantly. They’re idle next week, then they play Texas during Rivalry Week, which is their last chance to get a decent number of points. During championship week, they play Iowa St., so that’s not going to help them out much. Even Marshall would get more points that week with a win. TCU is just a whisker ahead of UCLA, who can get a lot of points by winning out, especially if the Bruins win the Pac-12 South.

Kansas St. plays Baylor during championship week, but Kansas St. has two losses (and Auburn isn’t helping them by losing) and Baylor doesn’t have the prior wins. Their non-conference schedule was just awful.

No one outside of the top 10 has much of a chance of making the top 4, but teams like Georgia Tech, Arizona, and Wisconsin could move up significantly by winning their respective conferences.

As we learned in 2007 though, you never want to say it’s impossible for either a team like TCU or one of those lower teams.

LSU, Notre Dame, and Duke fell out. I think they’re all top-25 teams in ability (although none played like it Saturday), but teams in the 20s are packed pretty closely together, and all have at least one good chance for points coming up.

There were 11 losses or bye weeks in the top 18 last week, so that accounts for a lot of the movement. Any team that went into the week in the top 18 and won a game is now in the top 12. All but two (Marshall and Boise St.) are in the top 7.

Week 10 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 3, 2014 at 5:05 PM

I’m not waiting for the committee this time. It’s LSU/Alabama week, so I want to give my rankings and move on. I’m going to include the mock BCS standings as I calculate them. They will be the number in parentheses. There are no team logos below because there is only one “new” ranked team (Missouri, which replaces West Virginia), and they were ranked earlier this season.

LSU/Alabama is just one of the big games before the Iron Bowl, but there is a good chance it will be an important game for the national-title race once again.

LSU/Alabama is just one of the big games before the Iron Bowl, but there is a good chance it will be an important game for the national title race once again.

My Top 25
My Rank/BCS/team/prev
1 ( 1 ) Miss. St. 1
2 ( 3 ) Auburn 3
3 ( 2 ) Florida St. 4
4 ( 10 ) Ole Miss 2
5 ( 5 ) Oregon 6
6 ( 4 ) Alabama 5
7 ( 16 ) UCLA 14
8 ( 12 ) Arizona St. 19
9 ( 15 ) Nebraska 8
10 ( 11 ) LSU 7
11 ( 7 ) Kansas St. 18
12 ( 6 ) TCU 17
13 ( 8 ) Notre Dame 11
14 ( 26 ) Colo. St. 16
15 ( 13 ) Ohio St. 13
16 ( 9 ) Mich. St. 10
17 ( 22 ) Marshall 9
18 ( 30 ) Boise St. 21
19 ( 17 ) Oklahoma 23
20 ( 19 ) Clemson 20
21 ( 20 ) Arizona 15
22 ( 14 ) Baylor 22
23 ( 23 ) Duke 24
24 ( 25 ) Missouri —
25 ( 18 ) Georgia 12

Full 128 computer ratings

Other teams who would have at least some BCS points:
42 ( 21 ) Utah —
31 ( 24 ) W. Virginia 25
29 ( 27 ) Wisconsin —
32 ( 28 ) TX A&M —
28 ( 29 ) USC —
26 ( 31 ) Ga. Tech —
33 ( 32 ) Florida —
30 ( 33 ) Minnesota —
35 ( 34 ) Louisville —
43 ( 35 ) Iowa —
49 ( 36 ) Stanford —
48 ( 37 ) E. Carolina —
50 ( 38 ) Cincinnati —
27 ( 39 ) U. Miami —

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9

Comments
Once again, I’m going to have to ask for some patience in Ole Miss going down in the rankings. They have Presbyterian next week and a bye the week after that, so they’ll possibly fall several spots in that time. (LSU, for instance, fell three spots after taking off this past weekend alone. Marshall and Michigan St. fell much more.) The following week, the Rebels play Arkansas, so someone else could also pass them after that week as well.

Why are they so high right now? Other than only having had one bye week, Ole Miss has the 4th-best schedule right now.

The Rebels beat Alabama, which rates as the second-best win by any team this season right now. The best win is Mississippi St.’s win over Auburn. As you might guess, apart from Mississippi St., the best (or least-bad) team to lose to is Auburn.

Speaking of Auburn, if you’ve ever said to yourself, “I’d like to watch Gus Malzahn break dance,” today is your lucky day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFvqdQnWu9I

Anyway, if I were just making it up from scratch, Ole Miss would be somewhere around #10, so I’m going to go through the top 10 and explain why Ole Miss is higher than each team in my ratings at the moment.

I’m not going to comment on every team’s prospect for moving ahead of Ole Miss, but the first two are particularly relevant.

LSU isn’t one of the top few teams to lose to, but they’re much better than Arizona, which beat #5 Oregon. Oregon is very close to Ole Miss in points though, so I would expect them to easily pass up the Rebels with a win next week.

#6 Alabama has beaten none of the top 5 teams of the West yet, so that’s why they can’t be ahead of Ole Miss right now. Beating LSU would change that. Not only would it be a decent increase in points, but it would hurt Ole Miss more for losing to LSU. (Losses hurt more than wins help.)

#7 UCLA also has two losses (one of them to Utah), so they certainly don’t have a strong argument to be ahead of Ole Miss.

#8 Arizona St. only has one loss, but when your best win is over USC, you don’t belong ahead of a team with Ole Miss’s résumé.

#9 Nebraska is another one-loss team that just doesn’t have the wins to compete with Ole Miss right now. The Huskers did beat Miami (which is no Alabama), but the quality of wins decreases rapidly from there.

#10 LSU needs another big win. They have Ole Miss (which counts for less than Alabama) and Wisconsin (which counts for less than Boise St.) but really not much after that. Kentucky and Florida don’t rate very highly due to their records, and it’s harder to have the same strength of schedule playing in the East, especially when neither team has played a good out-of-conference opponent yet. Ole Miss beat Texas A&M, for instance, which has a better record than either of LSU’s SEC East opponents and rates a good bit higher. The Aggies wouldn’t necessarily beat the Wildcats or Gators, but it makes sense that they have a higher rating right now.

Ole Miss went from being ahead of Mississippi St. in my ratings to being 0.25 behind the Bulldogs in the last two weeks, it just so happens there weren’t many teams in between ready to move up. Rating-wise, they’re as close to Mississippi St. as they are to Colorado St. now. It’s just not translating from ratings to rankings yet.

Along with the top teams of the Pac-12 (mentioned above), the top teams of the Big XII are moving up. Kansas St. plays TCU next week, so the winner will probably find itself well into the top 10. The Big XII doesn’t have that much depth in my formula though, so if it’s TCU, they’ll probably go down from there (Kansas, bye, Texas, Iowa St.). Kansas St. can still finish undefeated in the Big XII (they lost to Auburn out of conference) and still has WVU and Baylor to play, so I believe they would be the stronger candidate for the top 4 by winning out.

Notre Dame finally has a chance to make a move by beating Arizona St. Louisville and USC (later this month) won’t be bad additions to the resume either.

Everyone lower down lacks a great schedule at this point. I know this because there are no 3-loss teams in my top 25.

Colorado St. has a better rating than Marshall or Boise St., but the Broncos (with two losses overall) hold the tie-breaker in the Mountain West, so picking the “best of the rest” team might be tricky.

Like the TCU/KSU game, Ohio St. and Michigan St. should produce a team that can move up and do well. Unlike that game, both teams have competitive opponents coming up and neither has a bye week. If Nebraska keeps winning, that would help the winner of the Big Ten East even more down the road if they end up winning the Big Ten title game.

Oklahoma would get a big boost by beating Baylor, but there is not much left for the Sooners points-wise after that.

I don’t expect a big move upward by Clemson. Other than Florida St., the ACC Atlantic doesn’t have much to offer as far as potential points. Georgia Tech and a South Carolina team that will probably finish .500 are the best left on the purple and orange Tigers’ schedule. I certainly don’t see Florida St. losing twice, which Clemson would need to happen to make the ACC title game.
Arizona can still influence things with game against Washington, Utah, and Arizona St. Making the Pac-12 title game certainly isn’t out of the question. It seems like apart from Colorado, anyone in the Pac-12 South can easily beat anyone else.

I mentioned Baylor. The Bears still have Oklahoma and Kansas St. left, so they can still win the Big XII.

Duke looks like a good-but-not-great divisional winner again.

Lastly, no one wants to win the SEC East, it seems, but Missouri has a one-game advantage right now. The black and gold Tigers would lose the tie-breaker if it’s a two-way tie with the Bulldogs though. Texas A&M appears to be Missouri’s toughest test left, while Georgia still has to play Kentucky (on the road) and Auburn before closing the regular season with non-conference games.

This has nothing to do with anything, but I get multiple hits every day from some guy who obviously has poor internet searching skills and wants to know about what Texas A&M did in 1965 (something about their only conference win), so I’m just going to paste that whole season. Houston wasn’t in the SWC yet, so I guess it was Rice.
9/18 @ Louisiana State (8-3) L 0 10
9/25 @ Georgia Tech (7-3-1) W 14 10
10/2 @ *Texas Tech (8-3) L 16 20
10/9 vs. Houston (4-5-1) W 10 7
10/16 @ *Texas Christian (6-5) L 9 17
10/23 vs. *Baylor (5-5) L 0 31
10/30 vs. *Arkansas (10-1) L 0 31 @ Little Rock, AR
11/6 vs. *Southern Methodist (4-5-1) L 0 10
11/13 @ *Rice (2-8) W 14 13
11/25 vs. *Texas (6-4) L 17 21

If Playoff System Existed Last Season

In Bowls, College Football, Rankings Commentary on July 26, 2014 at 3:15 PM
Expected top 4 had the College Football Playoff system been in effect last season.

Expected top 4 had the College Football Playoff system been in effect last season.

First off, there needs to be a better way to describe this. The “playoff” is four teams, but there was a championship game under the BCS and you could describe the other major bowls as “BCS bowls” without confusion. CFP (college football playoff) bowls maybe? I guess I’ll call them that.

If you’re not aware, there is a three-year rotation for the semifinals. Year 1: Rose and Sugar. Year 2: Orange and Cotton. Year 3: Fiesta and Peach. So I’m going to go through all three possibilities using last year’s pre-bowl rankings.

The Top Four

Going by the BCS standings, this is how the semifinal would have looked last year:

Rose: Florida St. vs. Michigan St.
Sugar: Auburn vs. Alabama

However, I don’t think it would have happened that way. I think given that Alabama did not have a particularly strong non-divisional schedule (Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Colorado St., Georgia St., Chattanooga), did not win the conference, and lost its final game, they would have been seeded no higher than 4th. When the loss takes place isn’t stated as a criteria, but I can’t imagine that wouldn’t influence the results.

I don’t think Stanford, which had the toughest schedule according to many and which won its conference, would have gone ahead of Alabama, but that’s another possibility. I would have picked Stanford myself.

I’ll just go with Alabama though for this exercise. I think making them #4 instead of #3 would have been a significant enough departure from all the major polls.

Year 1: Semifinal

So this is what I think the semifinal actually would have been:
Rose: Auburn vs. Michigan St.
Sugar: Florida St. vs. Alabama

Year 1: Other CFP Bowls (those bowls in the rotation but not semifinals in Years 1, 4, 7, etc.)

The Orange Bowl is the only one where we have any guidance really since the ACC #1 goes to the Orange Bowl if it’s a year where the Orange Bowl is not a semifinal. In this case, it’s actually the ACC #2 since the ACC #1 obviously would have made the semifinal. I think with a fairly highly-ranked alternate of the same conference, the Orange Bowl still would have picked Clemson. The other Orange Bowl spot is for and SEC or Big Ten #2 or Notre Dame. I don’t think they would have fought the Cotton Bowl over Missouri, and Ohio St. was a very attractive pick, so actually, that’s the one relevant bowl that I don’t think would have changed.

Orange: Clemson vs. Ohio St. (actual match-up)
Cotton: South Carolina vs. Oklahoma
Fiesta: Stanford vs. Baylor
Peach: Central Florida vs. Missouri

Year 2: Semifinal

Cotton: Auburn vs. Michigan St.
Orange: Florida St. vs. Alabama

Year 2: Other CFP Bowls (those bowls in the rotation but not semifinals in Years 2, 5, 8, etc.)

It’s a little more straightforward not to have the Rose and Sugar as part of the semifinals. My understanding is that in Years 2 and 3, the SEC takes the highest non-semifinal Big XII and SEC teams no matter what, and the Rose Bowl takes the highest Big Ten and Pac-12 teams no matter what.

To editorialize for a moment, I don’t know why the Rose and Sugar would be paired as semifinals. It should be like Sugar Fiesta one year, Rose Peach the next, and Orange Cotton the next. That way you’re only disrupting one major bowl arrangement at a time. In the years that the Pac-12/Big Ten game doesn’t take place, there should still be the SEC/Big XII game and vice versa.

Sugar: South Carolina vs. Baylor
Rose: Stanford vs. Ohio St.
Orange: Clemson vs. Missouri
Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. Central Florida

Year 3: Semifinal

Fiesta: Auburn vs. Michigan St.
Peach: Florida St. vs. Alabama

Year 3: Other “Playoff” Bowls (those bowls in the rotation but not semifinals in Years 3, 6, 9, etc.)

These years will be the most restrictive since there are three bowls with pretty specific formulas.

Sugar: South Carolina vs. Baylor
Rose: Stanford vs. Ohio St.
Orange: Clemson vs. Missouri
Cotton: Oklahoma vs. Central Florida

All years: Other Bowls (rough guess)

I looked at the anticipated bowl lineup and used my best guess as to how it would have worked had next year’s bowls all been in place last year. Keep in mind that there were two more bowl slots among the major bowls since last season, there was a national championship game made up of two separate teams, but this season it will be made up of winners of bowl games. Oklahoma St. would have been bumped in my estimation so it would not have played in the Cotton Bowl. The Peach Bowl will be very different, so neither Duke nor Texas A&M would have been under consideration for the new CFP bowls. In the case of Texas A&M, however, I think their spot in what will be a major bowl would have been taken by another SEC team: in this case South Carolina. So that would leave the Big XII and the ACC with another team for the remaining bowls, pushing the other teams of that conference down the ladder.

I do think some of the bowls would have been the same due to regional interests. It made sense to have two Louisiana teams in the New Orleans Bowl, for instance. It made sense to have Maryland playing in Maryland and North Carolina playing in North Carolina. The bolded teams are those who were bowl-eligible but did not actually play in bowls last season. There were a record number of bowl-eligible teams last year, so I’m not entirely sure there will even be enough bowl-eligible teams next year. I guess the NCAA will cross that bridge when it comes to it.

This is just an informal sort of exercise, so don’t make a big deal out of it. I’m going by what I’m told the rules will be next year as far as the preferred conferences, etc. Most conferences do not fill all their contractual slots though. I wasn’t always sure which bowls would have gotten the #8 team from a given conference and which would have had to find another team.

New Orleans: Tulane vs. ULL
New Mexico: Washington St. vs. Colorado St.
Las Vegas: USC vs. Fresno St.
Idaho Potato: San Diego St. vs. Buffalo
Camelia (new; Montgomery, AL): Ohio vs. Troy
St. Petersburg: Middle Tennessee vs. South Alabama
Boca Raton: Toledo vs. Florida Atlantic
Miami Beach (new): BYU vs. Texas St.
Poinsettia (San Diego): Utah St. vs. Navy
Bahamas (new): Northern Illinois vs. Boston College
Hawaii: Oregon St. vs. Boise St.
Russell Athletic (Orlando): U. Miami vs. Ball St.
Armed Forces (Ft. Worth, TX): East Carolina vs. Louisville
Heart of Dallas: North Texas vs. UNLV
Military (Annapolis, MD): Marshall vs. Maryland
Pinstripe: Notre Dame vs. Rutgers
Sun (El Paso): UCLA vs. Texas
Holiday (San Diego): Nebraska vs. Arizona St.
Liberty (Memphis): Rice vs. Western Kentucky
Texas: Texas Tech vs. Mississippi St.
Detroit: Pittsburgh vs. Minnesota
Independence (Shreveport, LA): Arizona vs. ULM
Music City: Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech
Belk (Charlotte): North Carolina vs. Cincinnati
San Francisco: Washington vs. San Jose St.
Outback (Tampa, FL): Iowa vs. Georgia
CapitalOne (Orlando): LSU vs. Wisconsin*
Tax Slayer (formerly Gator; Jacksonville): Duke vs. Texas A&M
Alamo: Oklahoma St. vs. Oregon
Valley of the Sun (Tucson, AZ): Michigan vs. Kansas St.
Birmingham (formerly BBVA Compass): Vanderbilt vs. Houston
GoDaddy (Mobile, AL): Bowling Green vs. Arkansas St.

*It may have been the case that due to the fact that LSU plays Wisconsin to start this season, this match-up would not have been made. It’s possible that Georgia would have leapfrogged LSU, leaving the Tigers playing Iowa anyway. But as I said at the top of the section, it’s just sort of a rough guess. I left LSU there because they were apparently seen as the more desirable team. Also, some may recall Miami played Florida St. in a bowl game in 2003 only to play them again at the start of the 2004 season.

Vanderbilt CWS win caps great academic year for SEC

In College Baseball, College Basketball, College Football, Track on June 27, 2014 at 3:52 PM

I know it’s been a while, but often in the summer I’m too busy watching sports to blog much about them. College football is just the perfect sport for me to blog about since you have all your games finishing up on Saturday night, and (even with the national semifinal system) each game is much more important than an NFL game. Then, aside from the mostly irrelevant early-week games, there are a good few days at least to ponder the results and the upcoming week with no new results coming in.

Anyway, what I’ve mostly been doing lately in my spare time is watching the World Cup and the College World Series (I’m about to replace the latter with Wimbledon). I’ll probably have something to say about the World Cup when it’s over, but for now I just want to sort of sum up the academic sports year, which ended with Vanderbilt winning its first ever national title in a men’s sport, and (surprise surprise) talk about the SEC.

In some respects, you could consider the year a disappointment for the SEC. Obviously, the SEC’s streak of BCS titles came to an end at 7 after Auburn’s loss to Florida St. in January. When Oregon won the men’s outdoor track title a couple of weeks ago, it marked the fourth consecutive major men’s sports title (I’ll just call them the four sports from now on) NOT won by the SEC. Had Virginia won the CWS, this would have matched the drought from January 2004 (LSU’s first BCS title) to June 2005 (when Arkansas last won the national title in track).

On the other hand, going into the CWS final, the SEC had been reigning runners-up in all four of those sports (that’s not really “reigning”, but you get the idea). In three of those four sports, the SEC had at least one additional team in the top four. Also, I mentioned the BCS title streak that came to an end, but it’s still 8 years in a row that the SEC had a team play in the championship game. In baseball, it’s now 7 years in a row than an SEC team has been in the championship series (4-3). The SEC only had two finalist in the seven prior seasons. Both lost.

This is actually kind of incredible, but this academic year, the SEC had 10 different programs finish in the top four of the major sports: Auburn football, Alabama football (I’ll explain), Kentucky basketball, Florida basketball, Florida track, Texas A&M track, LSU track, South Carolina track, Vanderbilt baseball, and Ole Miss baseball. I would be very surprised if any conference had ever done that before in those sports.

I know most have said good riddance to the BCS already, but there is an important thing to clarify in the way it worked. In short, the number 3 and 4 teams in the final BCS standings are the closest approximation to semifinalists. I’ll elaborate in the next paragraph, but feel free to skip it if you understand.

It did not narrow down the field to two teams after the bowl games. So in basketball, for instance, you got eliminated from title contention when games were played and you lost to the title team. But you got eliminated from BCS title contention after championship week and before the bowl games. If Florida and Wisconsin went and lost some kind of exhibition after the basketball season, that would not alter their status as basketball semifinalists. For BCS purposes, the bowl games were exhibitions for all the other teams. I know the AP title was theoretically still in play, but the BCS was the only championship system. You don’t have to remind me USC won the AP trophy after the 2003 season, but in the bowl game they were playing a team (Michigan) which was not vying for any kind of championship, so that’s not really a system where you must beat other teams that are trying to be champions. A team like Alabama last year made a really good run at the title and understandably only one team separated them from a berth in the championship game when it came time to decide who was to play in that game.

So while the SEC ONLY had one national championship in the four sports this year, the first time it hasn’t had multiple championships since 2007-08, having ten programs that high is an impressive feat, arguably even more impressive than 2011-12 when the SEC had 3 national titles, 3 runners-up and a seventh top-four team. As mentioned, three of the relevant programs were also runners-up this academic year.

Below is the chart of all these top fours beginning with the 2006-07 academic year, the beginning of the BCS-championship streak. 2005-06 was a good year for LSU (Final Four in basketball [won by Florida] and national runner-up in track), but I had to cut it off somewhere. If someone wants to compile results for other conferences, feel free. The only reason a fifth track team is included for this year is there was a tie in points for fourth, which obviously isn’t really possible for the other sports. The BCS has too many decimal places to tie, and in basketball and baseball, you’re only going to get four semifinalists no matter what you do. From now on, I will use the same format for football and just consider the losing semifinalists as tied for third.

SEC 2006 to present

Time to Talk Turkey

In Bowls, College Football, Rankings Commentary on November 26, 2013 at 9:38 PM

By turkey, of course I mean football and the coming bowl season. The bird isn’t anything to get excited about really, but it can make an excellent sandwich to accompany football-watching.

First of all, I wanted to remind my All-Blogger voters to get their submissions in. About half of the ballots are still missing. None will be accepted after the first game kicks off on Thanksgiving, which is right about the time I plan to post it.

LSU-Arkansas (Friday on CBS) will be an afterthought among all the interesting games in the next few days, but I originally wrote this blog back in 2006, and it’s what touched off my successful (for me, anyway) Rivalry Series. So if you have any interest at all, please check it out.

Sometimes I wonder if articles are written for Bleacher Report just to annoy me. I used to suspect the same thing of Sporting News. Not me in particular, but they want to get under fans’ skin to get more hits. Brian Pedersen is a “Featured Columnist” on the site, and based on the way his “Which Teams Got Screwed in Week 14 Standings?” column is written, he doesn’t understand how the BCS rankings work after 15 years. The rankings will cease to exist in a couple of weeks. Have some respect.

• explain why Clemson (10-1) got passed by Missouri in the latest standings, despite both teams winning? Yes, Clemson moved up from seventh to sixth

> So let me get this straight. Getting “screwed” means not moving up ENOUGH after beating an FCS opponent? Does it not occur to him that Missouri beat a ranked Ole Miss team. Maybe there are times when beating a ranked team should move you ahead of someone even if that other team doesn’t lose. Is that so hard to imagine? I know a few other teams beat Ole Miss, but let’s review who they were: Alabama, Auburn, and Texas A&M. Ole Miss has beaten LSU, Texas, and Vanderbilt. Even if you’re not convinced Ole Miss is a good win, let me float this idea: Maybe Clemson shouldn’t have been ahead of Missouri in the first place. This doesn’t convey a highly fundamental misconception of the BCS. Maybe he figured the pollsters would penalize Missouri for what they knew would be a boost in the computers, I don’t know. But wait for it.

> He then mentions South Carolina didn’t lose ground after a similar game. NEITHER DID CLEMSON! He also mentions LSU climbed after beating an FCS opponent “and not just because teams above it lost”. Staying at 13th isn’t climbing. Missouri lost to a team called South Carolina. Guess what Clemson can do if they belong ahead of Missouri?

• But did the (Baylor) Bears‘ loss to Oklahoma State—arguably the hottest team in college football right now and currently ranked seventh—justify dropping from fourth to ninth?

>> Falling 5 spots after being blown out seems reasonable to me. LSU was in the Alabama game until the fourth quarter, and they fell 8 spots. This is the same guy who tries to argue there is a double standard in favor of the SEC. If anything, if you’re further down to begin with, losing to a top team shouldn’t hurt you as much.

>> Another big complaint seems to be that Stanford—which beat Arizona St., Washington, UCLA, and Oregon—passed up the Bears. Let’s review Baylor’s best four wins: Oklahoma… Texas Tech, Buffalo, Kansas St. Utah went downhill since beating Stanford, but they’ve played all the best teams of both divisions (not to mention BYU and Utah St., both of whom they beat) and some of the losses were very close. Stanford just happened to be their lucky game. South Carolina might pass Baylor if they beat Clemson (which would at worst be their second win over a 2-loss team). I think that MAYBE trumps Oklahoma and Texas Tech perhaps?

Michigan State (10-1) is locked into the Big Ten title game, where it will have a chance to earn an automatic BCS bid if it were to beat Ohio State in Indianapolis in two weeks.

>>> And best of luck to them. What’s the problem? Oh, they DIDN’T pass up the likes of Clemson and Baylor. So, the team that stays behind Clemson and Baylor got screwed. Clemson and Baylor also got screwed by not staying ahead of all the teams they had been ahead of. Wow. South Carolina is also ahead. He then mentions how Michigan St. should get more credit for winning its division. Baylor isn’t in a division. Michigan St., unlike Clemson, isn’t in a division with Florida St. Maybe he has a point with South Carolina (which won’t win its division unless Missouri loses to Texas A&M), but not if South Carolina beats Clemson.

Fresno State (10-0) gave its home crowd a powerful sendoff by putting up 69 points against New Mexico on Saturday, getting 820 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns from superstar QB Derek Carr [but fell behind Northern Illinois]… You can probably chalk that up to NIU getting ESPN exposure on weeknights the past two weeks, while FSU was on the lesser-watched CBS Sports Network.

>>>> This is that one shining moment you’ve been waiting for. I seriously doubt a whole lot of voters dropped Fresno St. In fact, their points in both of the BCS polls went UP (maybe a little less than Northern Illinois’); but you know those computers? They don’t get impressed by scores, because the NCAA mandated that the computers couldn’t factor that in. They also don’t care what channel the games were played on. They care that Northern Illinois beat a team with only one other loss (Ball St.) and then another (Toledo) who had been 7-3. Before beating New Mexico (3-8), Fresno St. had a bye week. Those mean computers want you to prevail over actual competition. For shame!

There was some griping about Central Florida and Duke, not completely without merit. But it’s just reality that when it’s 2/3 human polls, they’re not going to start supporting teams that have been out of the spotlight as quickly as you might like. Central Florida wasn’t realistically going to go ahead of undefeated Northern Illinois and Fresno St., but they don’t have to worry about that since all they have to do is win their conference anyway. Duke (with two losses) is behind a few teams with three losses. Maybe they have an argument to be ahead of USC, UCLA, or both; but do we have to pretend the SEC West is roughly equivalent to the ACC Coastal?

Finally, he complains about Cincinnati, with the worst schedule in college football other than possibly Old Dominion, which played mostly FCS schools. Cincinnati was absolutely destroyed by Illinois. The Illini have three other wins, but none of those victories were against teams with a single FBS win of their own. The Bearcats also lost to South Florida, whose one other FBS win was over Connecticut. Cincinnati did beat SMU, Rutgers, and Houston in consecutive weeks, but that doesn’t make up for those losses. The best win before those? 3-7 Memphis.

The same guy also did the bowl projections for this week. I know this will come as a shock to fans of the Stanford Cardinal, but even if they beat Notre Dame, the chances of playing for a national championship are approximately 0. He also assumes Texas will beat that great Baylor team he complains about and play Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl since LSU has three losses. Uhhh, Texas A&M does too; and furthermore, he projects Missouri to beat the Aggies! I had been wondering who to cheer for in this game since I think I might like to see South Carolina play Auburn or Alabama more than Missouri, but it’s clear now. The thought of LSU getting passed up for the Cotton Bowl again despite beating A&M again is a bit frustrating for me, so I’ll be cheering for all three SEC Tiger teams.

Conference report after Week 10

In College Football, Conference Reports on November 6, 2013 at 1:37 PM
LSU isn't particularly relevant to this discussion, but I still thought it was a cool picture to go with the SEC logo.  It was taken after LSU went 9-0 against the SEC in 2011.

LSU isn’t particularly relevant to this discussion, but I still thought it was a cool picture to go with the SEC logo. It was taken after LSU went 9-0 against the SEC in calendar year 2011.

Background/Intro

It seems like every year when a bunch of teams make it into the top 25 from the SEC that the claim is made that it’s just SEC hype. These are three common arguments: “They play too many FCS/Sun Belt/CUSA teams,” “All but a few teams are having down years,” “SEC fans only argue the middle of the conference is good because the top of the conference has a bunch of losses.”

I’m not one to argue that you can tell anything by conference records. If one conference has 4 teams with one loss or fewer and another has none, that gives you absolutely no information about which conference is strongest. So we have to look at non-conference records.

Every week with my computer poll, I publish a page called “Conferences & Divisions“. This is an attempt to rank the conferences according to top 10/25/40 membership in my unbiased computer poll. What I’m going to look at here, however, is how the conference as a whole has fared against other conferences.

The next section is how I arrived at #1; the discussions go a lot more quickly (usually with less depth) after that.

1 vs. 2

The best conference record against other conferences, at least by my tally that I keep throughout the year, is the SEC’s at 39-6. Admittedly, that includes 10 FCS wins, which is tied for second-most with the MAC and behind the ACC. Consider that the Pac-12, for instance, has played 10 games against FCS schools, but one was a loss. The ACC, SEC, and Big Ten are the only conferences that are perfect against the FCS this year. Keep in mind that the ACC and SEC each have two more teams than the Big Ten(+2) does. The Big Ten has 9 wins over FCS opponents.

If we take those games completely out, the Pac-12 is slightly better with an 80.8% winning percentage as compared to 80.6%. I think the SEC should still be considered better, all things being equal, due to the lack of an FCS loss. But all things aren’t equal, so we can explore further.

I have Notre Dame as a stand-alone category because they used to have special provisions in the BCS formula as one of the original signatories. Also, I think a program that played in the national championship game last season should qualify for that category anyway.

Anyway, other than that one-team category, the lowest number of losses overall (6 apiece) belong to the SEC and Pac-12. As mentioned, the Pac-12 has the one FCS loss (Oregon St. to Eastern Washington). Cal lost to Northwestern and Ohio St., Notre Dame beat Arizona St. and USC, and Washington St. lost to Auburn. The SEC has nonconference losses by lower teams to Rutgers (by Arkansas), Louisville (by Kentucky), and Western Kentucky (Kentucky again).

Western Kentucky is not a good team, but I think they might beat Eastern Washington. Even if they wouldn’t, I think it’s more understandable for possibly the worst SEC team (the Wildcats are winless in conference) to lose such a game. Western Kentucky only has two more losses than Eastern Washington does. In contrast with Kentucky, Oregon St. is 4-2 in the Pac-12.

I don’t think there is anything to take away from Tennessee losing to Oregon or Washington St. losing to Auburn. Georgia lost to Clemson, and Florida lost to Miami, but Georgia and Florida are probably the 6th and 7th SEC teams right now. That was against the ACC’s #2 and #3, and the ACC is having a relatively strong year, at least at the top.

I guess with Notre Dame’s loss to Michigan, you can be a little more critical of the two Pac-12 teams for losing to the Irish, but Arizona St. is the only one where it looks a little bad so far. USC is more the equivalent of Florida and Georgia in terms of in-conference strength.

The SEC is 8-5 against BCS conferences (+Notre Dame), and the Pac-12 is 6-5 against that same group. The AAC is only barely a BCS conference, so if you take that out, the SEC’s 7-4 is still better than 6-5.

So I think the SEC is fairly #1 and the Pac-12 is fairly #2. Both are over 80% against FBS, and no other conference is over 80% even if you include all opponents including FCS.

Nos. 3 to 7

I’m going with the ACC next. Even though their winning percentage dips to 68% when the FCS wins are taken out, they have fairly big wins. Among the BCS, the Big Ten has beaten Notre Dame (good win, don’t get me wrong), Iowa St., Cal twice, and Syracuse twice, along with a few insignificant AAC teams. The Big XII only has Notre Dame and Mississippi St., along with two wins over SMU.

I think based on Michigan’s position in the Big Ten, the Big Ten’s win over Notre Dame is more significant. Cincinnati and Syracuse twice is better than SMU twice. The bad losses of Rice and Navy are roughly equal, but the Big XII has the two FCS losses.

The AAC is the sixth conference at least, so it shouldn’t be too painful to watch its champion in a BCS bowl. It has a better Division I and FBS record than the Sun Belt, the surprising #7. The Sun Belt is very balanced though, and notably has no teams in my computer ratings above ULL at #49.

Nos. 8 to 11

If I counted Notre Dame as part of the independents, that would make the independents 6th, but apart from playing Navy, the Irish aren’t really in the loop with the other independents, who are now three Western teams along, two service academies, and Old Dominion, which has hardly played any other FBS teams anyway. So I think it makes more sense to just leave them out of that group. Anyway, without Notre Dame, I would put them at #8. BYU has been the only impressive team (despite the baffling loss to Virginia), but Navy’s win over Indiana was another plus.

The MAC and the Mountain West are pretty even. The MAC has a few more wins over BCS teams, but really they each have one meaningful win: Northern Illinois over Iowa and Fresno St. over Rutgers. Against the FBS, the MWC has won 25%, the MAC has won 24.4%. I’m just going to call that a tie.

The CUSA was pretty similar to those two, but I put them last because of some ugly games. Also, they had losing records against the MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt. One of their better teams by record is Tulane, which lost to South Alabama. The one major win was East Carolina over North Carolina, which isn’t impressive. There is a loss to Kansas and a loss to Arkansas, the two teams only having 3 FBS wins between them all season. There are also bad losses to New Mexico, Colorado St., Troy, Army, and Bethune-Cookman.

Rankings list

1. SEC
2. Pac-12
3. ACC
4. Big Ten
5. Big XII
6. AAC
7. Sun Belt
8. Independents (excepting Notre Dame)
9 (tie). MAC
9 (tie). MWC
11. CUSA

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.

More Conference Changes? + My Bowl Projections

In College Basketball, College Football, Realignment on November 29, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Surprise, surprise, TCU is changing conferences again.

The Horned Frogs will join their fourth conference since the dissolution of the SWC in 1996. First, it joined the WAC superconference. Shortly after the MWC teams left the WAC, it moved to the CUSA. Then it jumped to the MWC. Now it will be in the Big East, starting in 2012.

I understand that football teams must start in a new conference by 2012 in order for its statistics to count in the new conference for BCS purposes. The current evaluation period is between 2008 and 2011.

It has driven me crazy that a team in Fort Worth, TX, belonged to the Mountain West Conference since they joined, but they’re moving to a conference that, at least as compared to the current MWC, makes even less sense geographically.

Plus, TCU has a basketball team, so that will be 17 members of the Big East. That’s beyond ridiculous. I think they should make it two separate conferences for the purposes of other sports. Will there now be a play-in game to reach the 1st round of the basketball tournament, where the four winners then get a chance TO PLAY FOR a spot in the quarterfinals?

The travel times listed below are based on Google Maps driving directions.

TCU will leave a conference whose closest rival was 10 hours, 19 minutes away to join one whose closest rival will be 13 hours, 48 minutes away. (South Florida, in Tampa, may be closer in the air than Louisville, but I’m not sure.)

The longest trip will be 28 hours away (it doesn’t give minutes when you go over 24 hours). In the MWC as currently constituted, the longest trip (San Diego St.) was 21 hours, 19 minutes.

But to be fair, it could have gotten worse had TCU stayed. Boise will be 26 hours away, but Hawaii (if they choose to join the MWC) would have been even farther away, about 2900 miles, almost 1200 more than the distance to Connecticut. There is of course no driving time to Hawaii. Confirmed new additions to the MWC, Nevada and Fresno St., would have also been farther away than any current MWC team.

Obviously, there are other reasons, but it’s interesting that three teams have now left the MWC since it was announced that Boise St. was joining. No one wants to play them, unless it’s another team that wants to go out its way to prove itself (I’m sure Fresno St., for instance, was happy to follow them to the MWC).

As I referenced in the second paragraph, I also read that apparently these moves are all about jockeying for automatic qualifier status. TCU’s BCS appearance last year will count toward the Big East, Boise’s will count toward the Mountain West, and Utah’s in the 2008 season will count toward the Pac-10.

Hawaii’s BCS appearnce in the 2007 season apparently doesn’t matter, so the WAC could really be deprived even if Hawaii stays. The WAC might be the new Sun Belt when all is said and done. Idaho, Utah St., and New Mexico St. were all Sun Belt teams at one point, incidentally. San Jose St. isn’t much better. Louisiana Tech (another severely out-of-place team) actually won the WAC in their first season in the conference, but it’s been pretty much downhill since then. Those five teams are the only ones left if Hawaii also leaves. Maybe they’ll add some California FCS teams, but I think the last thing we need is more FBS teams. The Sun Belt is getting bloated, maybe a some of them will go out West (there are two Louisiana teams and one Texas team who might go well with Louisiana Tech).

The Sun Belt is currently scheduled to have 10 football teams with the addition of South Alabama in 2013. I don’t know if Denver plans to field a football team, but they are moving to the WAC, where BYU will also play in sports other than football.

The Big East is also considering adding Central Florida and Villanova, should the latter choose to move up to FBS. Central Florida would increase the number of basketball teams to 18.

I don’t know if there is any interest in bringing Temple back to the Big East, but that would be a more logical fit than the MAC, especially since the Owls have been improved in the last couple of years. It would also be a good basketball program to add, though its previous membership in the Big East was football-only. Temple would also of course be a natural rival with Villanova. The teams have already played each other multiple times in recent years and have an intense basketball rivalry.

Bowl projections

National championship:
Oregon vs. Auburn

I don’t think either team will have it easy this week, but I expect both to come out on top. I just don’t think the opposition is good enough. On the other hand, just ask Bobby Bowden how tough it is to face a rematch with Steve Spurrier.

A Pac-10 or Big Ten national-championship-game team would automatically send TCU to the Rose Bowl. It’s not right for Stanford, but that’s the breaks. So the Rose Bowl doesn’t really get to pick a team.

So there is the second match-up: Wisconsin (projected Big Ten champion based on BCS standings) vs. TCU.

This would probably leave an automatic #4, probably Stanford, Oklahoma or Nebraska as the Big XII champions, Virginia Tech or Florida St. as the ACC champions, and probably either Connecticut or West Virginia (Pitt would only make it if both lose) as the Big East champions. This leaves open the possibility of two non-automatic at-large teams.

The Sugar Bowl gets the first two real picks, the replacement for Auburn and the regular first pick. I think they’d definitely pick Arkansas (leaving only one other non-automatic slot). They might like to pick the Big XII champion, but they’re contractually obligated to the Fiesta Bowl, so my guess is they knock out that last non-automatic spot and pick Ohio St. The Buckeyes were in a New Orleans bowl game in 2007 (the national championship game), but I still think the team and fan base are the most attractive option. I don’t think there is enough of a gap between Stanford and Ohio St. to ignore all the other positives for Ohio St.

So there is our third match-up: Ohio St. vs. Arkansas

The Orange Bowl will have the ACC champion automatically, and they’ll get to pick a second team. Especially if it’s Connecticut, I don’t think they’d want the Big East team instead, so my guess here would be they’d take Stanford. Even if WVU wins the Big East, I don’t know if you pick a team that’s 20 spots worse because their fans are better.

So the fourth match-up: ACC vs. Stanford

The Fiesta Bowl will automatically get the Big XII champion, and they’d be stuck with the Big East Champion, assuming no one else selects that team.

Fifth match-up: Big XII vs. Big East

Select other bowl projections:
CapitalOne: LSU vs. Michigan St.
Cotton: Oklahoma St. vs. Alabama
Outback: South Carolina vs. Penn St.
Peach: Virginia Tech vs. Florida or Florida St. vs. Mississippi St.
Gator: Florida or Mississippi St. vs. Illinois or Iowa (The Ron Zook Bowl sounds interesting, but if it’s Mississippi St., they might go with Iowa instead)
Alamo: Texas A&M vs. Arizona
Insight Bowl: Nebraska vs. Michigan
Texas Bowl: Baylor vs. Illinois or Iowa
Holiday Bowl: Missouri vs. Washington
Champs Sports Bowl: Notre Dame vs. U. Miami (I don’t know why they’d pass that game up, I don’t care how bad Miami looked against South Florida)

I also think it would be interesting if maybe the Sun Bowl (which used to be somewhat important) matched Notre Dame and Boise St., since there aren’t enough Pac-10 teams and Notre Dame can go to the Big East bowls, but Notre Dame would probably prefer not to play Boise St. anyway. It would be a shame for Boise St. to have to play a team that’s even worse than that. Boise St./Utah would be a good out-west game (the Las Vegas Bowl would be a possibility, since that’s another open Pac-10 spot), but Boise might be possessive and the Broncos could be stuck on the blue field for the Humanitarian Bowl.