pianoknight

NCAAF Playoff - 8 Team Bracket

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"The only sure things in life are death and taxes and bracket creep."  -Benjamin Frankin

 

NCAAF fans are divided on the issue of expanding the playoffs.  While many would like to see expansion, automatic qualifiers and a path for Group of Five teams, there are traditionalists who also argue that expanding a playoff puts less emphasis on the regular season.  With those objectives in mind, I set about to build an 8-team playoff model and chart out what it would have looked like over the last several years of college football.

 

This 8-team model is simple:

  1. Power 5 Champs get an automatic berth.
  2. A sixth slot is reserved for the best Group of 5 Champ and/or Independent team.
  3. The final two slots are for at-Large teams.

 

Regarding the location of the games, there are four 1st Round Bowls, two Semi-Final bowls and a Final CFP Championship Game.  To accommodate this extra round of games, the CFP Championship Game will remain intact as its own game.  The six bowls in the 1st and Semi-Final Rounds will rotate between the NYD6 Bowls currently in place: the Orange, the Fiesta, the Sugar, the Rose, the Peach and the Cotton.  In other words, for some years the Rose Bowl might be a 1st Round Bowl and in other years it would be a Semi-Final Bowl.

 

As to the logistics and travel accommodations, deal with it.  It's a concept.  And truthfully, if a team is expected to be one of the Top 8 football teams in NCCAF, they should be able to swing an extra game or two on the road.  If you can't win big on a neutral field, don't play.

 

Finally, the seeding.  The 6 Champions (P5 + G5/Indy) are seeded #1-6 based on their CFP ("BCS") rankings.  The final two At-Large teams are seeded #7 and #8, again based on their ranking.  This can create some interesting scenarios as a highly ranked (but not Conference Champ) team could wind up as the #7 or #8 seed, giving them an immediate match up with #1 or #2.  This effectively places more emphasis on winning your division/conference as it's not merely enough to coast into the playoff ahead of a Mountain West champ.  You've got to earn that seeding, lest you open up the bracket with a tough game against an Alabama or Ohio State. 

 

Here's the sample bracket:

ryyPnEE.png

 

Let's look at 2017 to start off.  The SEC is a great example of the seeding at work, as #2 Georgia actually won the conference, but #1 Alabama got the 7-seed and a first round game against Oklahoma.  Georgia gets the easier path with a start against Wisconsin.  Case in point?  Win your conference.  Also note that UCF is the highest ranked G5/Indy team in play, and because they're sitting at a #6 ranking, they actually move UP a slot over #12 USC.  It's middle of the pack shuffling, but UCF gets a first round against Ohio State, forcing USC to play Clemson.  Again, this model forces teams to win their conference AND compete for better national rankings.

 

Also, check out Notre Dame and BYU.  While they are typically a shoe-in for the best Independent Team, sharing that automatic berth with the G5 does not give them their sweetheart independence deal.  Notre Dame was TWICE ranked #11, but were still beat out by #6 UCF and #8 Houston.  You could argue that a #11 Notre Dame is stronger than #8 Houston, but it all comes back to rankings.  Independent teams will think twice about loading up on cupcakes, or ponder whether joining a conference is a better move.

 

One of the big criticisms of the current 4-team model is that too few teams are represented.  With this model - notably the automatic berth for the G5/Indy teams - there are 23 different teams represented (see below) in a five-year span.  That's roughly a fifth of FBS.  The current 4-team model has only seen 9 different teams represented.  By doubling the size of the field, we almost TRIPLE the number of teams playing.  

 

Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Boise State, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Houston, Michigan State, Missouri, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, UCF, USC, Washington, Western Michigan, Wisconsin.
 

 

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I can guarantee you this won’t work, conference champions shouldn’t get a certain seeding, an automatic ballot? Maybe, but a #1 Alabama team shouldn’t be a 7 seed because of a fluke loss to Georgia when Alabama is still clearly better. Theres already something in place if they expanded to 8 teams, just added the next 4 teams, simple 

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2 hours ago, BellaSpurs said:

I can guarantee you this won’t work, conference champions shouldn’t get a certain seeding, an automatic ballot? Maybe, but a #1 Alabama team shouldn’t be a 7 seed because of a fluke loss to Georgia when Alabama is still clearly better. Theres already something in place if they expanded to 8 teams, just added the next 4 teams, simple 

 

Well, this is in the Concepts forum. 

 

And, sure, if a team is ranked #1 overall and loses their conference championship by a fluke, than they should probably get into a playoff.  Probably.  A plan like this gives P5 teams control of their destiny.  You want in?  Win your conference.  You want a high seed and easier 1st Round game?  Win your conference and do it convincingly.  

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48 minutes ago, pianoknight said:

 

 

Well, this is in the Concepts forum. 

 

And, sure, if a team is ranked #1 overall and loses their conference championship by a fluke, than they should probably get into a playoff.  Probably.  A plan like this gives P5 teams control of their destiny.  You want in?  Win your conference.  You want a high seed and easier 1st Round game?  Win your conference and do it convincingly.  

I agree that it means a lot to win your conference, but If there’s 3 teams from 1 conference in the top ten and zero from another P5 conference, it shouldn’t matter the 3 teams should all get in regardless if someone else won another’s division, like this year, you had up to 5 sec teams in the top ten at one point (Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, correct me if I’m wrong.) they all cant make the bubble slots.

 

I don’t mean to be argumentative, I like the concept and idea, so props to you for that. 

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Just on the merit that this gives non SEC teams a shot at the National Championship this is a winner. Schools like North Texas would have to go undefeated for four years in a row to even dream about being a playoff team because the SEC is always going to be forgiven for their losses as seen above.

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This is a really intriguing concept, and I like a lot of the thinking behind it. The only thing I would say is it seems like 2 seeds get kinda shafted. While I think it's great that say, Alabama has a harder road because they didn't win their conference, it seems unfair to Oklahoma that they get stuck playing the #1 ranked team in the country despite being the second seed in the tournament. Obviously, last year was kinda flukey in that the top two ranked teams were in the same conference, but none of those 7 seeds have been lower than #4. I'd much rather be a 3 seed and play a #15 or #16 than have to face a top-4 team.

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A couple things I would personally change:

 

1) Get rid of the committee, its VERY subjective and just plain stupid, and implement a highly detailed computer ranking like one of the two Joel Klatt suggests.  Some might say no because of the BCS, but the only reason why that didnt work is because only 2 played for the championship instead of 4 or 8.

 

2) Make the seedings based on rankings, and adjust for very recent H2H play.  For example from 2017, I think Georgia should keep the #1 seed over Alabama because of the recent game, but Alabama moves to the #2 seed because they are the highest ranked team remaining.  Now, if that game was early in the season instead of just 2 weeks beforehand, Alabama would be the #1 seed because of the ranking.  The cutoff for H2H IMO should be the last 3 weeks of the season.

 

Regardless of my own suggestions, I like this A LOT more than what we have now, well done.

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22 hours ago, BellaSpurs said:

I agree that it means a lot to win your conference, but If there’s 3 teams from 1 conference in the top ten and zero from another P5 conference, it shouldn’t matter the 3 teams should all get in regardless if someone else won another’s division, like this year, you had up to 5 sec teams in the top ten at one point (Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, correct me if I’m wrong.) they all cant make the bubble slots.

 

I don’t mean to be argumentative, I like the concept and idea, so props to you for that. 

The problem with that though, is that you devalue conference champions when you simply allow teams to get in based off of ranking (rankings shouldn't be a thing, especially not from human minds). Sure the SEC has had 4* teams in the top 10 this season, but those are just rankings and its clear Kentucky and Florida, and possibly even LSU aren't nearly as good as their ranking suggests. If you're a good enough team you will win the games that matter and win your conference and therefore be rewarded with a playoff spot. Rankings are very subjective and in my opinion, biased (especially when decided on by people not computers), and shouldn't be the determining factor of how good a team is. Winning your conference does a much better job at deciding that just about every season.

 

Adding to the 8 team playoff, I think the NCAA should incorporate a rule that makes every P5 team play other P5 teams in the non conference and eliminate the G5. So there would be 3 wildcards and not a G5 champ. Putting the pressure on teams like UCF, Boise, Houston, BYU, ND, and so on to join a major conference and gain they respect they deserve. As well, all conferences should play an equal amount of conference games. Currently the BIG and SEC are rewarded with cupcake weeks because they only play 8 conference games.

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I like a 5-team playoff using the format the NFL did in the 80s.  If you finish outside the Top 5 do you really deserve to play for a national championship?

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28 minutes ago, H11K said:

Currently the BIG and SEC are rewarded with cupcake weeks because they only play 8 conference games.

 

The Big Ten plays nine conference games. This year Nebraska plays the 6 other teams in the West division plus Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State from the East. 

 

Schedule parity is a hot button issue as the B1G tends to match up their "name brands" more frequently. In other words Nebraska or Wisconsin will play OSU, PSU and UM much more frequently than Northwestern does. Good TV, but makes a meat grinder schedule. 

 

Unless you meant the Big XII, which also plays 9 conference games.

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17 minutes ago, pianoknight said:

 

The Big Ten plays nine conference games. This year Nebraska plays the 6 other teams in the West division plus Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State from the East. 

 

Schedule parity is a hot button issue as the B1G tends to match up their "name brands" more frequently. In other words Nebraska or Wisconsin will play OSU, PSU and UM much more frequently than Northwestern does. Good TV, but makes a meat grinder schedule. 

 

Unless you meant the Big XII, which also plays 9 conference games.

Hm, no, just wrongly thought the BIG played 8, so its just the SEC then that plays 8, or is it the ACC that also plays 8? 

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1 hour ago, H11K said:

The problem with that though, is that you devalue conference champions when you simply allow teams to get in based off of ranking (rankings shouldn't be a thing, especially not from human minds). Sure the SEC has had 4* teams in the top 10 this season, but those are just rankings and its clear Kentucky and Florida, and possibly even LSU aren't nearly as good as their ranking suggests. If you're a good enough team you will win the games that matter and win your conference and therefore be rewarded with a playoff spot. Rankings are very subjective and in my opinion, biased (especially when decided on by people not computers), and shouldn't be the determining factor of how good a team is. Winning your conference does a much better job at deciding that just about every season.

 

Adding to the 8 team playoff, I think the NCAA should incorporate a rule that makes every P5 team play other P5 teams in the non conference and eliminate the G5. So there would be 3 wildcards and not a G5 champ. Putting the pressure on teams like UCF, Boise, Houston, BYU, ND, and so on to join a major conference and gain they respect they deserve. As well, all conferences should play an equal amount of conference games. Currently the BIG and SEC are rewarded with cupcake weeks because they only play 8 conference games.

Playing against 8 other BIG or SEC teams is a lot harder than other conferences, an 8-2 record in the Sec can be better than a 10-0 record in the ACC, i would say most times it is

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23 minutes ago, H11K said:

Hm, no, just wrongly thought the BIG played 8, so its just the SEC then that plays 8, or is it the ACC that also plays 8? 

 

I believe the ACC moved to 9 games around the time they picked up Pitt and Syracuse to go to 14 teams.  Same for the B1G after Maryland and Rutgers joined, although the change took a couple of seasons since schedules were already out.

 

The Pac-10 always played a 9-game round robin, so they just kept it at 9 games when they went to 12 teams, if I recall.  I believe the SEC is the only P5 conference playing 8 games.  And you're correct about that extra game being basically a cupcake/BYE week.

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Just now, BellaSpurs said:

Playing against 8 other BIG or SEC teams is a lot harder than other conferences, an 8-2 record in the Sec can be better than a 10-0 record in the ACC, i would say most times it is

 

I would tend to agree with that, but out of fairness, I think all P5 conferences should play the same number of conference games.  8, 9, 16, whatever.  Just make it the same across all five conferences so it's easier to compare apples to apples.  

 

For example, the Big Ten has only three non-conference games and the conference has a rule about not scheduling FCS teams.  There are some exceptions, as when Nebraska scooped up Bethune-Cookman as a last minute replacement for Akron.  But it bugs me when a typical B1G non-con schedule looks something like KState, Tulsa, Cincinnati and the average SEC non-conference schedule looks like Samford, Citadel, Grambling and Florida A&M. 

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