Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A 4-Team Football Playoff Is Good!

It's good that that the presidents of major football universities have gotten together and adopted a 4-team playoff. It's the option I wanted!

Some people want more teams in a playoff, but 4 is enough. With a 2-team championship game, it's possible that the #3 team might be almost as good as the #2 over the regular season, and then crush the #4 team in a bowl game while the #2 beats the #1 in a close but poorly played contest.  This leads to the legitimate complaint that the #3 team was denied a championship by factors totally out of their control.  This would get especially bad if the #3 team is unbeaten.

The 4-team playoff solves this problem. Even if the #4 and #5 teams are really close in quality over the regular season, the #4 will have to beat the #1 and then beat either the #2 or the #3. After two season-ending victories against top opponents, the case for the superiority of the #4 team over the #5 team should be clear.

Of course, there will still be complaints about who was ranked #4 versus #5 and got a chance in the playoffs.  But any system is going to have problems with that. In NCAA basketball, there are 64 teams in the playoffs, and people complain about not getting in if their team was on the margins. The point is that after everything is done, you get a much clearer answer as to which team did the best on the field over the course of the entire season.

Meanwhile, all the little bowls continue to exist on the side (as far as I know). They're fun and there's no reason to get rid of them. 

In other college-president-related news, Teresa Sullivan has been reinstated as President of the University of Virginia. Awesome!  


low-tech cyclist said...

I'm with TNC on this: I've been watching pro and college football since the 1960s, but knowing what I know now, I can't accept the notion of people causing each other permanent brain damage just so I can be entertained for a few hours each week.

OTOH, Teresa Sullivan's reinstatement is good news. Of course, this ain't done until Helen Dragas is forced to resign from the Board of Visitors.

Max Kingsbury said...

College basketball has gone way in the wrong direction on this. If a 64 seed has never won the tournament, why do you need to add the 65-96th? What the hell is the point of having one play-in spot? You will always have the "first team out". Just because you can have a big tournament doesn't mean you should.

Your point on 4 vs 5 is very good.

low-tech cyclist said...

Hell, I'm all for letting everybody in to the NCAA basketball tournament who wants to go. Have 32 seeded spots in the round of 64, and a bunch of mini-playoffs for the other 32.

And how about that Supreme Court decision!

Nick Beaudrot said...

I swore I posted this already, but this is yet another Obama triumph

Nick Beaudrot said...

I think the 4-team playoff will make it hard to fulfilled the objections of people who think that non-major conference teams are being screwed.

Ohio state and Florida would be the 1/2 seeds by BCS standings. The selection committee or whtaever would then have to choose between five other teams ahead of Boise State in the BCS standings: Michigan, LSU, USC, Louisville, and Wisconsin. I'm not so sure Boise State would get picked in this scenario.

You would really have to go to a 6- or 8-team playoff to end a lot of the complaining about who got picked. In the year in question, Auburn was the #9 team. But, they had two losses to weak teams to pair with their upset victories against Florida and LSU. Likewise Wisconsin as the 3rd Big 10 team would not have qualified, so the bracket would have been something like:

(1) Ohio State vs (8) Oklahoma
(4) LSU vs (5) USC

(3) Michigan vs (6) Louisville
(2) Florida vs (7) Boise State

That bracket would satisfy the BCS haters. A 6-team bracket would have to exclude Michigan and LSU, and there would be a real argument that those teams deserved to be ranked higher.