Monday, December 31, 2012

Man, What a Group!

Sorry about not getting this out sooner...but I'm excited to bring it to you just the same.

This promises to be one of the best (okay, at least one of the most interesting) fields to ever (at least on this computer) compete in the history of this one version of a should've been/would've been/could've been NCAA Division 1-A college football playoff.

What makes the 2012 version intriguing is the fact that NCAA sanctions have prevented Ohio State from bringing its 12-0 team to the table. (From what I heard and read, school officials' attitudes toward the sanctions didn't help, either.)

Anyway...without further ado, here's the 24-team field for my version of a 2012 NCAA D-1-A football playoff (with regular-season, pre-bowl records shown): 

1. Notre Dame (12-0; independent at-large)/ 2. Alabama (12-1; SEC champ)/ 3. Northern Illinois (12-1; MAC champ)/ 4. Florida (11-1; SEC at-large)/ 5. Oregon (11-1; Pac-12 at-large)/ 6. Kansas State (11-1; Big 12 champ)/ 7. Stanford (11-2; Pac-12 champ)/ 8. Kent State (11-2; MAC at-large)

9. Georgia (11-2; SEC at-large)/ 10. Florida State (11-2; ACC champ)/ 11. Oklahoma (10-2; Big 12 at-large)/ 12. South Carolina (10-2; SEC at-large)/ 13. Louisiana State (10-2; SEC at-large)/ 14. San Jose State (10-2; WAC at-large)/ 15. Boise State (10-2; Mountain West champ)/ 16. Utah State (10-2; WAC champ)

17. Texas A&M (10-2; SEC at-large)/ 18. Clemson (10-2; ACC at-large)/ 19. Louisville (10-2; Big East champ)/ 20. Nebraska (10-3; Big Ten at-large)/ 21. Tulsa (10-3; Conference USA champ)/ 22. Oregon State (9-3; Pac-12 at-large)/ 23. Arkansas State (9-3; Sun Belt champ)/ 24. Wisconsin (8-5; Big Ten champ)

If you're new to "Boston's Blog," these 24 teams are listed in order of playoff seeding (rather than rank in the AP, USA Today, and Harris Interactive polls). Matter of fact, the polls don't figure into how teams end up qualifying for this version of a Division 1-A playoff.

A point system akin to what the high school athletic association in your state (if it's a state of the United States) uses to determine playoff seeding in football is used here. And it breaks down like this:

*A Division 1-A team earns 50 quality points for beating a winning D-1-A club.

*It earns 45 points for a win over a nonwinning 1-A squad.

*Said club gets 40 points for a win against a Division 1-AA team that enjoyed a winning year.

*And the playoff team receives 35 quality points if it stopped a nonwinning D-1-AA entry.

This system takes out quality points for every loss...meaning that a loss to a winning D-1-A team costs a playoff squad 50 points, a loss to a 1-A team that stank costs 55 points, and if the playoff team loses to a successful D-1-AA entry, well...say goodbye to 60 quality points.

What's more, if one of these Division 1-A playoff teams should lose to a losing team from 1-AA...the defeat takes 65 quality points away. 

Plus: If a team goes undefeated, it picks up 55 bonus points.

This system also uses tiebreakers...with the first one being total number of victories racked up by a team's 1-A foes. If the tied teams saw their 1-A opponents win the same number of games, head-to-head competition is looked at. If the tied teams didn't meet during the regular season, conference records are examined. And if they're identical, point differential in conference games is next. If the teams are still in a deadlock, the next tiebreaker is point differential in all games. 

And if that's all comes down to a coin flip. 

With that in mind, Florida (which won the 2009 playoffs- unbelievably, the sole SEC team to go all the way in these playoffs!) got seeded higher than defending playoff champion Oregon, despite the Gators and Ducks racking up 475 quality points each in 2012. [The 1-A clubs that played Florida totaled 87 wins this season, while Oregon's 1-A opponents won 73 times. (Weak Washington State and even weaker Colorado didn't help the Ducks' cause.)]

Also: The top eight seeds get to duck (okay, Duck) the first round.

So...if you're scratching your head as to why Kent State (making its first appearance in these playoffs) jumped ahead of Georgia (in its twelfth appearance; its first was in the playoffs' inaugural year, 1982), here's the reason: The Bulldogs faced eight losing-or-.500 1-A teams this season, while the Golden Flashes went up against seven. (Georgia got 400 quality points, while Kent State slid by with 405.)

It's how a team did this season, rather than a team's past reputation. 

By the way...if the Buckeyes hadn't gotten put on probation, they probably would've gotten the playoffs' top seed...assuming they would've won the Big Ten title game to go 13-0. As it was, Urban Meyer's club would've received 670 points for a 13-0 record.

The result that actually took place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN (Badgers 70, Huskers 31) caused the field to have room for just one at-large nine-win team. On top of that, Wisconsin's win prevented Ball State (the Cards went 9-3) from entering the playoff field.

And it forced the Cornhuskers into a first-round game.  

Speaking of games...I'm looking forward to using Lance Haffner Games' 3-in-1 Football (computer vs. computer) to get those games played. (And I'm looking forward to bringing you the results!)

Well, that's it for me this year. I'm Jim Boston, and thanks for reading this blog! (And may YOU have a happy and prosperous 2013!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Haven't We Had ENOUGH by Now?

Like the overwhelming majority of Americans right now, I've got last Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on my mind.

It's the first time ever that kindergarten children lost their lives at the hands of a mass murderer in an American place of learning.

This time, along with six adults, twenty children- many six years old, the others seven- were killed.

It's been 37 years since the first time a school shooting taking place here in the United States (it happened in Alaska in 1975) grabbed headlines.

And yes, back then, we were discussing whether or not America's gun-control laws ought to be strengthened.  

Since 1975, busloads- planeloads- of people here in this country have been killed by mass murderers...especially at this country's schoolyards and shopping malls.

And every time it happens, we keep asking: "Why?"

We KNOW the reason it keeps taking place.  

It's that we sure love those guns here in America. (I mean, the love of guns WAS a founding principle. We didn't break off from England by just talking it out.)  

Speaking of 1996, a 43-year-old man invaded an elementary school in Dunblane, Scotland, and picked off sixteen kindergartners and their teacher. Then he pulled the trigger one more time and bumped himself off.

In time, the British government conducted an investigation...and the inquiry led to laws that ended legal private ownership of handguns in Rob Pattinson's native country.

America's lawmakers don't have the guts to come up with anything close to that kind of a law. 

What's more, way too many of the people in Washington are TOO DOGGONE CHICKEN to discuss any of this with the National Rifle Association...much less stand up to the NRA itself.

Well, I'm glad to find out US Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) wants to have that talk with NRA officials. (And Manchin admits he's a gun lover.)

It's long been time for lawmakers to have that long, long overdue talk with the gun lobby. And while this country's senators and representatives are at it, they need to also invite officials from the nation's big media companies. (After all, the Adam Lanzas, Allen Muhammads, Jared Loughners, and Robert Hawkinses couldn't enact their sprees if they didn't, at one time or another, see examples on TV or at some neighborhood movieplex.)

And invite rank-and-file citizens, too, by all means...because the experience in each community- urban, suburban, rural- is different in one way or another.  

Let's strengthen the gun laws we've already got. Let's make it harder for people to get them. (After all, state after state just got through pushing legislation making it harder to vote- even if that legislation basically backfired!)

You mean to tell me we can't find a place of common ground here in America when it comes to gun control

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Now You Can't Tell the Conferences without a Scorecard

I saw this in my local newspaper and I cringed.

It was announced last week that Louisville will quit the Big East Conference (the Cardinals just got through tying Cincinnati and Rutgers for the league football title) and, effective in two years, go into the Atlantic Coast Conference...the exact same decision made earlier this year by Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

And Louisville's decision came after (1) Notre Dame decided to take all of its sports- except football, of course; can't jeopardize that contract with NBC- to the ACC from the Big East and (2) Rutgers itself decided to trade its membership in the Big East for a chance to become the Big Ten Conference's 14th member. (Maryland- a charter member of the ACC, a league that goes back to the 1953-54 academic year- will start doing its thing in the Big Ten in 2014, same year Rutgers officially becomes a member of the league that gave us Nile Kinnick, Dave Winfield, Magic Johnson, and Katie Smith.)

And I'm wondering to myself: "When will all of this end?"   

I thought it was going to end with the Big 12 Conference taking in TCU and West Virginia...a move that still leaves that circuit with ten schools, what with Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, and Texas A&M all saying "bye bye." (I still believe that Texas A&M and Missouri wanted the bigger paychecks Southeastern Conference membership could provide...and that Nebraska wanted to go into the Big Ten because it got tired of losing to Texas in football. Oh, well...)

All of these ACC moves during this 21st Century have been all about that green folding stuff...especially the kind that football can generate. [Remember when the league snatched Miami (FL), Virginia Tech, and Boston College from the Big East during 2004-05?]

The Big East retaliated by prying Cincy, Louisville, and South Florida (they've got football teams) as well as DePaul and Marquette (schools that used to compete on the gridiron) out of Conference USA.

And then C-USA made up for that by yanking Rice, SMU, and Tulsa out of the Western Athletic Conference.

In turn, the WAC enticed New Mexico State and Utah State out of the Sun Belt Conference.

Here we are, almost a decade after the ACC sought to prove it could compete in football.

And I'm wondering to myself: "When will all of this end?"   

I remember when the Big East got started (1979-80, same year as the Horizon League and the Atlantic Sun Conference, neither of which wages a football championship). The BEC was billed as the East Coast alternative to the ACC, then- as now- the most respected circuit when it comes to men's basketball.

The Big East was the league the sports reporters up in the Northeast (especially in the New York City area) had been on their knees begging for.

And they were licking it up, all right. Between 1979-80 and 1990-91, Big East squads had won as many NCAA Division 1 men's hoops tourneys as did ACC contingents- two apiece, with North Carolina's 1982 win and North Carolina State's 1983 conquest followed by Georgetown winning it all in 1984...then getting evicted from the throne room a year later by Villanova.

All four of those championships ranked right up there in NCAA history.

At that very moment, both the ACC and BEC were building good resumes in women's basketball (at a time when the SEC and the then Pac-10 were the most respected leagues)...but the championships wouldn't start coming until the middle 1990s, when North Carolina got it done (1994), only to lose its title a year later to Connecticut.

By then, Big East officials had started offering their schools a football that they wouldn't play as independents anymore.

And it looked good at long as Miami (FL) was the dominant team in the Big East.

1991 was the first year Big East teams fought for a football championship. A year later, the SEC went from 10 members to taking in football indie South Carolina and by getting Arkansas to jump the Southwest Conference.

The SEC leaders found out they could now split their circuit into divisions and put on a championship football game.     

Within five years, other Division 1-A conferences sought to duplicate the SEC and get their own grid title games going. When the SWC imploded in 1996, the Big 8 took in four of its schools and became the Big 12. The Mid-American Conference expanded to 12 schools. (It's now got 14.) C-USA took in Houston and eventually got other universities to join.

And the WAC ballooned to 16 members...only to become a joke to sports reporters and talk-show hosts. (In 1999, eight WAC schools got tired of being laughed at by the Jim Romes of the world and formed the Mountain West.)

But now, with this current amount of movement going on among D-1-A institutions, the WAC is celebrating its 50th birthday with a limp...all because it might have to drop football.

Idaho and New Mexico State have decided to go it alone (a la Notre Dame and original WAC member BYU- one of the Mountain West's charter members). And this after Fresno State, Hawaii, and Nevada left the WAC in time for this current school year...duplicating Boise State in the process by going to the Mountain West.

WAC newcomers Texas State and Texas-San Antonio are already ticketed for other C-USA or the Sun Belt.

Oh, well.

The next several years really are going to be interesting as conferences and schools alike prove it's really all about The Money. 

After all, if schools and conferences won't be loyal to each other, how in the world can their fans expect to show continued loyalty?

And I'm still wondering to myself: "When will all of this end?"