Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Holes Are Plugged Up!

Nope, I don't mean the potholes here in Omaha.

I'm talking about a project I got started with the year I bought a personal computer for the first time, 1992.

All this time, I've been conducting a version of a sports event the NCAA is too reluctant/unwilling/chicken to bring about: That Division 1-A college football playoff.

That's right: The NCAA crowns champions in every remaining sport and in every division in each remaining sport- Division 1, Division 2, and Division 3. Even in football, the organization annually gives you a Division 1-AA title (last season, Eastern Washington won it, 20-19, over Delaware), a Division 2 championship (Minnesota-Duluth defeated Delta State, 20-17, last year), and a Division 3 crown (the 2010 winner was Wisconsin-Whitewater, which stopped ten-time D-3 champ Mount Union, 31-21).

Nothing like that in college football's most lucrative sector.  

Instead, the two teams that play in the so-called BCS national championship game (I call it the "Extra Bowl") are, basically, selected by the media (the ESPN-USA Today Poll and the Harris Interactive Poll)...with help from a whole bunch of computers.

So, if you want a REAL national champion in NCAA Division 1-A football, all you've got to do right now is...go to your desktop or laptop or handheld, download a football simulation game, download from four to thirty-two teams, develop a playoff format, and...do your thing.

And that's what I've been doing all this time.

Been using Lance Haffner Games' 3-in-1 Football and going computer vs. computer, beginning with a used Commodore C-64, then going to a 386, then a 486, then- finally- a P3. And I'd been buying teams disks from LHG until life circumstances kept me from being able to send in for a new 3-in-1 teams disk each year, so I started going to the company's Website, http://www.lhgames.com/, and getting free downloads of teams disks that included all the D-1-A clubs that participated in bowl games during this or that season. (By the way...this version of a big-school playoff starts with the 1982 campaign, the first season in which the NCAA's current guidelines for membership in the governing body's Division 1-A and Division 1-AA took effect.)

Then, last year, I joined a Haffner Games discussion group.

And because of that, while keeping my version of a 1-A playoff current, I'd been able to fill in the gaps that came from not being able to buy some year's teams disk or download one of LHG's free samples.

For the last dozen years, I hadn't been able to do the 1999 playoffs...until this past weekend.

And so, without further ado, here's how each of these Division 1-A playoffs I've conducted finished:

1982- Nebraska 24, New Mexico 18
1983- Michigan 30, Texas 17
1984- Maryland 20, BYU 17 (1 OT)
1985- Oklahoma 41, Maryland 7
1986- Oklahoma 31, Miami (FL) 14
1987- Oklahoma 24, Auburn 21
1988- UCLA 31, Clemson 17
1989- Nebraska 26, USC 10
1990- Nebraska 16, Clemson 10
1991- Washington 27, Florida State 21
1992- Miami (FL) 55, Syracuse 7
1993- Nebraska 24, Notre Dame 21
1994- Penn State 63, Kansas State 14
1995- Florida State 17, Nebraska 16
1996- Ohio State 34, Arizona State 18
1997- Nebraska 52, Auburn 28
1998- Florida State 31, UCLA 25
1999- Nebraska 28, Kansas State 14
2000- Florida State 21, TCU 17
2001- Miami (FL) 42, Illinois 21
2002- Iowa 31, Colorado State 24
2003- USC 30, Michigan 0
2004- USC 49, Oklahoma 47
2005- Ohio State 31, Texas 27
2006- Boise State 28, Ohio State 14
2007- Ohio State 35, BYU 0
2008- Boise State 38, Oklahoma 14
2009- Florida 28, TCU 7
2010- Ohio State 28, TCU 22

The 1982-2000 playoffs were 16-team affairs; every playoff cycle from 2001 on has involved 24 teams. Each team is seeded, and the top eight seeds get to sit out the first round (the exact same format the NCAA currently uses in its D-2 football playoff; its D-1-AA playoff involves 20 clubs while the D-3 version is a 32-team fight).

Right now, the D-1-A playoffs I've been going through involve eleven automatic qualifiers (that's right: All eleven Division 1-A football-playing leagues get to send their champs to these playoffs, from SEC to Sun Belt) and thirteen at-large clubs.

Each of these 1-A cycles I've run has had plenty of surprises, from Number One seeds losing to Number 16 squads under the old format (something that happened six times) to top eight seeds [including four Number One seeds- Miami (FL) in 2002, Hawaii in 2007, Utah in 2008, and Auburn in 2010] squandering their byes in the new format.

With this system, just two Number One seeds got through the playoffs unscathed: Nebraska in 1993 and Miami (FL) in 2001 (which makes the Hurricanes' fall the next year- a 44-24 loss to Colorado State- even more of a shocker).

And two of the titles were won by Number 13 seeds. What's more, the two teams that turned such a low seeding into championships are in the same conference. And what's even more, the schools they represent are located in the same city!

Yep...I'm talking about UCLA's 1988 team and USC's 2003 squad.

Husker fans (especially those really anxious about when the next time will come when Big Red tops a poll at the end of a season) can take comfort in the six titles won by Nebraska in this version of a 1-A playoff (five by teams under Tom Osborne and the sixth by a team headed up by his successor, current Ohio head coach Frank Solich).

But if you like one of the SEC teams...you're bound to cringe.

That's because no Southeastern Conference contingent was able to get it done until Florida went all the way in 2009. (And the Gators were an at-large club that year!)

I'm going to be writing more about the Division 1-A playoffs in the time to come (when I'm not writing about other things on this blog).

Until then, stay tuned...and whether you're a newcomer to this blog or remember it from its previous platform, thanks for checking out "Boston's Blog!"

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