Sunday, December 28, 2014

Just Because They're Finally Staging the College Football Playoff...

Well, that doesn't mean that this football fan's going to stop using his computer to wage his own version of a 24-team shoulda/woulda/coulda NCAA Division 1-A college football playoff.

I wasn't sure what kind of decision the 13-member selection committee was going to come up with when College Football 2014 (regular-season style) was about to come to an end (after all, the first-ever CFP Poll had three Southeastern Conference teams among the top four clubs in Division 1-A). I thought it was just going to be the BCS-Plus-Two.

Me, I can live with what Jeff Long, Tom Osborne, Condoleezza Rice, and Co. came up with. 

I can live with a championship entry from each of four different conferences.

Still, I can't wait until this becomes an eight-team playoff...or a 16-team one. (Maybe the day will come when the NCAA takes over the 1-A playoff process.)

Maybe if Mark Emmert and his lieutenants ran this 1-A playoff, all ten of the leagues in that division- not just the five wealthiest leagues- would get automatic bids. 

If Emmert and Co. ran it the way I do, this year's D-1-A playoff field would look exactly like this:

1. Florida State (13-0; ACC champ)/2. Ohio State (12-1; Big Ten champ)/3. Alabama (12-1; SEC champ)/4. Oregon (12-1; Pac-12 champ)/5. TCU (11-1; Big 12 at-large)/6. Baylor (11-1; Big 12 champ)/7. Marshall (11-1; Conference USA champ)/8. Boise State (11-2; Mountain West champ)

9. Northern Illinois (11-2; MAC champ)/10. Michigan State (10-2; Big Ten at-large)/11. Mississippi State (10-2; SEC at-large)/12. Colorado State (10-2; Mountain West at-large)/13. Arizona (10-3; Pac-12 at-large)/14. Wisconsin (10-3; Big Ten at-large)/15. Georgia Tech (10-3; ACC at-large)/16. Missouri (10-3; SEC at-large)

17. UCLA (9-3; Pac-12 at-large)/18. Mississippi (9-3; SEC at-large)/19. Clemson (9-3; ACC at-large)/20. Arizona State (9-3; Pac-12 at-large)/21. Kansas State (9-3; Big 12 at-large)/22. Cincinnati (9-3; AAC at-large)/23. Central Florida (9-3; AAC champ)/24. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4; Sun Belt champ)

Actually, the Ragin' Cajuns are Sun Belt champs by proxy this time. Georgia Southern celebrated its first year of 1-A football by not only going 9-3...but also racking up an undefeated (8-0) SBC mark. But because the Eagles (with six Division 1-AA titles between 1985 and 2000) are still transitioning into 1-A football, they won't be officially able to qualify to taste postseason action in that division until next season.

You try asking the CFP committee (which also includes Archie Manning and Oliver Luck, two former NFL quarterbacks whose three sons between them have become famous NFL quarterbacks) how it came to pick Alabama as the group's Number One seed (leading to a date with fourth-seeded Ohio State) and how it came to select Oregon as the second seed (and Florida State the third banana).

They won't tell you.  

But I'll be glad to tell you how THIS 24-team playoff field got determined.

First of all, besides all ten D-1-A circuits receiving an automatic bid apiece, a point system is used, and it's not unlike the system your state's high school athletic association probably uses to determine football playoff seeding. 

A team receives 50 quality points for beating a 1-A club that had a winning record, 45 points for stopping a Division 1-A entry that suffered a losing mark or had a .500 season.

The club wins 40 quality points for defeating a Division 1-AA squad that racked up a winning campaign...and gets 35 for a victory over a losing (or .500) 1-AA team.

Yep...quality points are subtracted for losses, too: 50 for each loss to a winning 1-A team, 55 for every loss to a losing 1-A club (or one that won half its games), and 60 should our playoff entry lose to a successful 1-AA contingent.

And should that D-1-A playoff squad lose to a D-1-AA team that was .500 or worse...that's a loss of 65 quality points. 

In case a team wins all its games, the club receives 55 extra quality points...something that happened for Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles this time around.

This system's got tiebreakers, too. The first one is the number of games won by all the Division 1-A clubs that played the tied teams. (This season, Alabama and Ohio State each earned 520 quality points...yet because the Buckeyes' D-1-A opponents won a combined total of 87 contests, while the 1-A foes of the Crimson Tide racked up 83 wins, Urban Meyer's players got the second seed for 2014.)

Head-to-head competition is the second tiebreaker...and if the tied teams didn't meet during the regular season, conference records are examined. (This tiebreaker kicked in for 2014, since Arizona State and Clemson not only totaled 265 quality points apiece, but saw their Division 1-A foes win 74 games each. No, the Sun Devils and the Tigers didn't taste it up this it came down to the fact that ASU had a 6-2 Pac-12 record, topping Clemson's 6-3 ACC ledger.)

Had the circuit marks been the same for Todd Graham's and Dabo Swinney's teams, point differential would've been looked at...first in head-to-head competition, then in conference play, and next in all games.

If all else fails, the final step is a coin toss.

By the way...I'm going to use Lance Haffner Games' 3-in-1 Football to run this playoff cycle, and the games will be computer-vs.-computer style.

Can't wait to play these...and I'll give you the results as soon as possible.

Until then, may 2015 really rock for you! Thanks for reading this blog!