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 Post subject: PollMastaJ's 16-team playoff
PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 11:54 pm 
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See PollMastaJ's poll
Back when I posted the weekly College Football RPI, I had accompanied it with a 16-team playoff picture, with automatic bids for all 10 (at the time, 11) conference champions/current leaders, and 6 (or 5) at-large bids using the highest-ranked non-champions. I haven't kept up with tracking the RPI, but using my personal, subjective rankings, I have been putting together a mock bracket for the past few weeks, just to see what it would look like.

Not wanting to step on Crayton or Beaver's toes here, who each have more interesting playoff scenarios, but since Trey (welcome back!) mentioned this exact type of playoff in another topic, and it's the closest thing to a straight NCAA Basketball-type format (with similar ratio of playoff teams:total teams), I figured I might as well share what mine looks like. Again, this is using my poll only: (conference champions are in bold)

1) Alabama (13-0)
16) Appalachian St (9-3)

8) Wisconsin (10-3)
9) USC (9-3)

5) Ohio St (11-1)
12) Western Michigan (13-0)

4) Penn St (11-2)
13) Temple (10-3)
__________________________

6) Oklahoma (10-2)
11) Iowa (8-4)

3) Washington (12-1)
14) Western Kentucky (10-3)

7) Michigan (10-2)
10) Colorado (10-3)

2) Clemson (12-1)
15) San Diego St (10-3)

---

A few things that probably stand out:

Rematches
The Penn St/Temple and Michigan/Colorado match-ups have already taken place, and there are potential 2nd round rematches between Alabama/USC and Ohio St/Penn St. With some finagling, potential rematches could be avoided until the semifinals (not the finals as there are several instances of teams with at least two common opponents). Here's a bracket featuring the same teams with no first round rematches, and no potential 2nd round rematches:

1) Alabama vs 16) Appalachian St
8) Wisconsin vs 9) Colorado
5) Ohio St vs 12) Western Michigan
4) Washington vs 13) Iowa

6) Michigan vs 11) Temple
3) Clemson vs 14) Western Kentucky
7) Oklahoma vs 10) USC
2) Penn St vs 15) San Diego St

In this example, no team was moved more than 2 seeds in either direction. Penn St seems high at #2, but you could argue that them winning probably the toughest conference in the country makes up for them having 2 losses. I've also avoided any first-round inner-conference match-ups, though this was already the case in the original bracket.

Iowa, 5 Big Ten bids, no Big XII at-large
I know I have Iowa ranked higher than most (read:all), but they would be one of the hottest teams coming into the playoff. Two of their last three games were an unexpected win over Michigan, and a 30-point drubbing of Nebraska. Obviously, they had numerous struggles in their first nine games - losses to FCS opponent North Dakota State and mediocre Northwestern, barely edging out Rutgers by 7, falling to Penn St by 4 touchdowns - but I do think the way they're playing now gives them just enough of an edge over Big XII contenders Oklahoma St and West Virginia. Now, if someone wanted to put OK State, West Virginia, or even Florida St in over Iowa for the last at-large spot, I wouldn't have much of a problem with that. I think we can at least agree that the SEC would be a 1-bid league this year.

Too many games?
With this playoff, + a 12-game regular season, + a potential conference championship game, a team that reaches the final could end up playing 17 games total. While it wouldn't exactly take too long to complete - starting the 1st round on 12/17 and playing weekly would land the championship game on 1/7 - that's quite a grind for a college student/athlete. Ideally, I'd like to see conferences limited to 10 teams, with 9 conference games so that everyone can play each other and there is little doubt as to who the conference winner is, and 3 non-conference games (scottishduck outlined a conference realignment scenario like this in detail, back when there were 120 FBS teams - http://www.cfbfanpoll.com/forums/viewto ... 141&t=1600). That way there is a hard limit of 16 games per team in a season, and only two teams would even play that many.

---

Part of the reason I'd be a proponent of this format is it allows every team to control their own destiny. Western Michigan beat every team put in front of them, did everything they could within their power, had a perfect season, and what do they get? Sure, a Cotton Bowl bid is nice, but they don't even get a chance to play for a national championship? Well, no more. Now, any team that takes care of business is in. Like college basketball, as long as you win your conference, you're guaranteed a shot. If you feel like too many teams are playing directly for a national championship this way, consider that it's still not nearly as bloated as the NCAA basketball tournament. Only 1/8 teams would (currently - ratio would only become smaller as more teams joined FBS) make it into this playoff, while nearly 1/5 make it into the basketball playoff. The regular season still matters quite a lot, and you are in serious danger of failing to qualify if you don't win your conference.

Games under this format could be played entirely on neutral sites, or be hosted by the higher-ranked team until the semi-finals. Could also have "pods" where Alabama/App St, Wisconsin/USC, and their winners are all played in Tuscaloosa, Ohio St/Western Michigan, Penn St/Temple and their winners are all played at Happy Valley, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: PollMastaJ's 16-team playoff
PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:14 pm 
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See Crayton's poll
This response is more a response to the general idea of a 16 team "NCAA style" tournament for the FBS.

The 20 teams playing CCGs significantly overlaps with the 16 teams playing in the first round of the tournament. In fact, only 4 of PollMastaJ's teams did not win their division (USC and 3 Big Ten teams), meaning most teams are playing twice when only 1 game "counts" toward a National Championship.

Solution? Combine the first round with the CCGs.

First, we need to reduce the number of mid-major participants to no fewer than 3. Sadly this means teams like App State miss out. The argument for reducing these teams is primarily their 3+ losses but also their weak schedule. One factor in analyzing a tournament's strength is the likelihood the tournament's winner is seen as FBS champion. If a team beats 3 Top 10 teams, that is impressive; but if that is combined with 3 losses it is not really Championship-worthy.

Second, we have to limit the number of non-division winners to 3. We'll take PMJ's USC and top Big Ten team, Ohio State, and replace 8-4 Iowa with 9-3 Florida State. Sadly, this excludes Michigan. In the past I had made a hard-and-fast rule that only 1 non-division champ per conference should be admitted; it may be better, now that conferences are so large, to rule that any at-large team who has lost to and is ranked below another at-large team is ineligible. This is similar to my WCG rematch rule. This new rule eliminates Michigan not simply because they are the #2 Big Ten at-large but specifically because they lost the Big Game to Ohio State.

Result? We drop SDSU, WKU, App St, and Michigan. We then combine the First Round of the Tournament with the CCGs.

Using CFBFanPoll rankings adjusted to 1-16:
1 Alabama vs. 14 Florida
2 Ohio State vs. 11 Florida State
3 Clemson vs. 15 Virginia Tech
4 Washington vs. 7 Colorado
5 Wisconsin vs. 6 Penn State
8 Oklahoma vs. 12 OK State
9 Western Michigan vs. 10 USC
13 Navy vs. 16 Temple

Specific qualification guidelines: To keep the fat cats happy, the 5 major CCGs are all automatic first round games. To keep the mid-majors happy, the top 3 division winners are given entree into the playoff; if 2 come from the same conference then they play against each other. Any remaining mid-major(s) and the 3 at-large teams are seeded by rank, with the caveat that there must be 1 all-mid-major 1st round game.

The pesky Army-Navy game would likely need to be scheduled earlier in the season. Navy would not have been ranked as high if they had lost before the CCGs... but they still are likely to have been ranked above ASU, WKU, and SDSU for the 3rd and final mid-major spot.

Too Many Games?
Well, the most the National Finalists will play is only 1 more than currently. 16 is a lot, but it halves the number of teams playing 15+ compared to the simplistic "NCAA style" tournament.
PollMastaJ wrote:
Part of the reason I'd be a proponent of this format is it allows every team to control their own destiny. Western Michigan beat every team put in front of them, did everything they could within their power, had a perfect season, and what do they get? Sure, a Cotton Bowl bid is nice, but they don't even get a chance to play for a national championship? [...] The regular season still matters quite a lot, and you are in serious danger of failing to qualify if you don't win your conference.
This. The inclusivity of undefeated mid-majors is the only reason I see to expand the playoff. Even still, splitting the FBS into 2 more subdivisions might be a better way to go.

I'd have the first round at CCG sites and home sites, depending on how conference choose to do it. Wild Card Games can be at home sites. The second (newly added round in mid-December) would likely have to be on-campus. I realize reseeding mucks with "bracketology" but the uneven first round almost requires a reseed at least before the second round.

1 Alabama hosts 8 Temple
4 Penn State hosts 5 Oklahoma
3 Washington hosts 6 Florida State
2 Clemson hosts 7 USC
(USC and Florida State were switched to prevent campus rematches)

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