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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I fixed the BCS!

No, not really. Likely far from it. But a random idea for a patch on the BCS popped into my head today while driving and I wanted to at least share it with someone who wouldn't respond with a glassy-eyed stare. My girlfriend would not be that person. My new model incorporates a plus one, but in a way I don't think I've seen it suggested before. I doubt it's flawless, it's a fairly loose framework, and I'm sure you all can poke plenty of holes in it, but again, I'm just bouncing here.

First of all, this operates under the belief that the entire regular season is a playoff.


If you accept that the entire regular season of college football is a playoff, it follows that:
a) Any team that loses a "playoff" game does NOT have an unalienable right to compete in the National Championship game (though sometimes they may still get the opportunity)
b) Any team from a BCS auto-qualifying conference who goes undefeated DOES have the right to compete for a national championship game.

Let's say you've got three teams remaining at the end of the regular season who are undefeated. Condition B above states that all of these teams have a right to compete for the national championship. The solution? Hand one of 'em a loss. Enter the Conditional Play-in game. We'll call it the CPI, since we love acronyms in college sports.

The CPI would be invoked if and only if the season ends with more than two undefeated teams. I'll talk briefly about variations below, but at its root, that is the sole purpose of the CPI. The way it works is this: Let's say three teams from auto-qualifying conferences go undefeated. We'll use this year's Bama, Texas Tech, and Penn State as the example, although it's since been busted. If these three teams allfinished the season undefeated at 1) Alabama, 2) Texas Tech, and 3) Penn State. At this point the CPI would be invoked.

Alabama, being the BCS #1, gets a bye to the National Championship Game. Texas Tech and Penn State would then play one another. Texas Tech gets home field as the higher ranked team, and Penn State travels to Lubbock for the CPI. This game would be held a week after the conference championships; this year we'd be looking at Saturday, December 13. Winner goes to the National Championship, loser still gets to hang out in the BCS.

This, of course, would require a placeholder, since bowl selections are done the weekend before. It could be done on a rotating basis like the championship game itself, where the location hosting the NCG also gets the CPI loser--everyone would know where they were traveling, just not necessarily when. Or it could be that the BCS bowls picks the pairing (and thus the CPI loser) in the same manner they would other teams. This could get interesting: In this year's scenario, the Rose Bowl would likely go after that bid to preserve the possibility of the Big 10/Pac 10 matchup, but if Penn State should win, the end up with Texas Tech.

Possible variations include invoking a CPI if teams #2 and #3 are both one-loss teams that are fairly evenly matched, or going for a 4 team (#1 and #2 both get home field) if you've got a bevy of one-lossers. But again, the initial postulates state that only undefeateds have an unalienable right to a chance to compete.

If there are a clear-cut #1 and #2, by virtue of there just being 2 undefeated teams (or all teams having at least one loss)? No need to invoke a CPI, the system plays out as it always has, and you get a free Saturday. But this plan guarantees all undefeateds access, a feature the current system does not have. And it preserves the bowls as they stand, doesn't cause undue travel (no team makes an extra trip, save for fans of the #3 team who choose to attend the road game) and in most years, doesn't change the current system one bit. And if a CPI takes place, both teams get a little more live-game action in before their respective games, which would still be several weeks down the road.
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