Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why the 'pure +1' playoff model is a bad idea...

Classic Bowl +1 is about the only psuedo-playoff format that I really hate; it's rarely an improvement over the current system. If we decide Big East/ACC is a 'classic' matchup for the Orange, and use the current BCS rules for two at-large spots rather than 4 (i.e. first a non-BCS in the top 12/above the top BCS champ, then ND if in the top 8, then #3 or #4; after that, I used the highest-ranked teams that wouldn't match up teams from the same conference), then backtracking a bit (and assuming that the highest-ranked team in the final BCS rankings won their conference, unless I remember otherwise, because I'm too lazy to look that up). Also, I'm slotting western non-BCS schools that qualify in the Fiesta, which makes geographic sense, not shuffling them all the way across the country.

Rose: #5 USC beats #8 Penn State
Fiesta: #6 Utah beats #1 Oklahoma
Sugar: #2 Florida beats #3 Texas
Orange: #19 Virginia Tech beats #12 Cinci

This gives us three legit contenders for the title game, and would have even if Penn State and/or Oklahoma and/or Texas had won. Slightly better than the four legit contenders we'll have if Texas beats Ohio State, but no real improvement there.

Rose: #7 USC beats #1 Ohio State
Fiesta: #4 Oklahoma beats #11 Hawaii
Sugar: #2 LSU beats #8 Kansas OR #6 Missouri (maybe; this is the only game that would match two teams that won their actual bowl games)
Orange: #9 West Virginia beats #3 Virginia Tech

At that point, who plays in the title game? USC just beat #1, but Oklahoma, LSU, and WVU also just beat highly-ranked teams, and all have the same number of lossses.

Rose: #5 USC beats #1 Ohio State
Fiesta: #8 Boise beats #10 Oklahoma (actually happened, or we wouldn't project this)
Sugar: #2 Florida beats #3 Michigan (maybe; non-Ohio State Big Ten teams have actually done pretty well against the SEC, and Michigan really did beat Florida in 2007)
Orange: #6 Louisville beats #13 Wake Forest (actually happened)

Here, Florida and Louisville have the best records among BCS conference teams, Boise is undefeated and just beat Oklahoma, and USC just knocked off #1. Who goes to the title game, then?

Rose: #1 USC beats #3 Penn State
Fiesta: #2 Texas beats #4 Ohio State (regular season rematch, though the first one was close, and I'm not sure Texas beats them twice)
Sugar: #7 Georgia beats #6 ND
Orange: #11 West Virginia beats #10 Virginia Tech

So in the first case where you've got a clear title game, you get exactly the same USC-Texas game you would have originally had. Except if Ohio State upsets them (and beating a good team twice is hard), and then you've got USC/Ohio State and a lot of grumbling from Georgia and West Virginia.

Rose: #1 USC beats #12 Michigan (co-champs with Iowa, but held the tie-breaker)
Fiesta: #6 Utah beats #2 Oklahoma
Sugar: #3 Auburn beats #4 Texas
Orange: #16 Florida State beats #21 Pitt

In this season, you end up with two undefeated major conference teams, and an undefeated mid-major that just knocked off the #2 team in the country (given how Oklahoma played in the title game, you've got to like Utah's chances there). You probably get a USC-Auburn title game, but the Utes would be... upset.

Rose: #3 USC beats #4 Michigan
Fiesta: #5 Ohio State beats #10 Kansas State
Sugar: #2 LSU beats #1 Oklahoma (actually happened)
Orange: #9 Miami beats #7 Florida State (I think this would be a rematch, in Miami's home stadium)

So here's the first time where this format actually helps, as we can have our USC/LSU game (though the expectation is that USC would have won it handily -- and it's what the current BCS rankings formula -- though not the 2003 BCS rankings formula -- would have given us anyway; it's just that in this version, Oklahoma has lost their bowl game and so has no right to complain).

Rose: #2 Ohio State beats #6 Washington State
Fiesta: #4 USC beats #7 Oklahoma
Sugar: #3 Georgia beats #5 Iowa
Orange: #1 Miami beats #14 Florida State

So you get Ohio State-Miami again, with a nagging impression that if either played USC, they'd get killed... which is what really happened.

Rose: #4 Oregon beats #8 Illinois
Fiesta: #3 Colorado beats #6 Tennessee
Sugar: #5 Florida beats #2 Nebraska (probably, anyway)
Orange: #1 Miami beats #10 Maryland

And, well, that probably gives a Miami/Colorado title game, which is a slight improvement. But the current BCS formula would have made the title game Miami/Oregon, which is better than either.

So there's all of one time since 2001 that the 'pure plus one' format would be better; it'd usually just create more confusion.

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