8 Teams is too much. A defense of the 4 team playoff

TomRicardo

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I am adamantly against having a 8 team playoff.  I think it would really weaken the regular season because teams would take more cupcake games and essentially you would be giving teams a mulligan.  I think one of the best things about college football is during the regular season every week there is at least one game that seems like playoff.  With 8 teams getting in a lot of that tension would tone down.
 
To be honest I think way more would be lost then added with 4 games.  I rather see teams fight it out during the regular season.  4 teams mean at least one power conference is going to be left out.  That means you have to schedule some big out of conference games if you do not want to be left out.  TCU and Baylor got left out (Ohio State had a better out of conference schedule then both) because of this.
 

lexrageorge

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+1.  
 
I can understand in prior years the complaints of the 3rd place team that was not given the opportunity to play for the BCS title.  I have a lot less sympathy for the 5th and 6th place teams clamoring to be added to the party. 
 

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The solution to avoid this is to limit playoff teams to 1 per conference. I know, I know...what if 2 or 3 of the best 2, 4, 8 teams are from the same conference? That's what the regular season is for.
 

TomRicardo

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BigSoxFan said:
-1.

The regular season would not be cheapened by adding 4 more teams to the playoffs. I really don't get this argument. Most teams already schedule manageable OOC schedules that consist of 2 cupcakes, 1 half decent team, and 1 expected tough game. Additionally, these matchups are scheduled years in advance so even if there were some fundamental shift in thinking, it wouldn't be seen for 5-6 years down the road after which we'd have more selection data.

It's easy to say screw the 5th and 6th teams but in years like this year where there isn't much of a difference between the top 4 teams, that's harder to do.
 
This is a year there wasn't much difference between the top 4.  Seriously there was no clear cut team going into the playoff and Ohio St kind of backed into the game.
 
Baylor and TCU got screwed for scheduling 3 cupcakes.  Team are going notice it.
 
I don't understand what makes a 8 team playoff good.  There has not been one season of college football where you could argue there was 5 or more teams that should have been National Champions.  I really don't need another week of College Football between the conference championships and the bowl games.  You are right in the middle of NFL playoff push.  When you let 8 teams in you give teams more of buffer and take some of the excitement out of the regular season.  Also it really diminishes the reason for a strong OOC schedule.
 

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What about having a 6 team playoff with the equivalent of a wild card weekend? So 6 teams get in. Seeds 1 and 2 get a "bye". In the middle of December, Seed 3 plays Seed 6, while Seed 4 plays Seed 5 in the wild card round. After the wild card round, there are four remaining teams that fit into the current playoff system beginning on January 1st. This year a 4 deed is in the championship game and teams like TCU and Baylor were deserving of consideration.
 

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TomRicardo said:
 
This is a year there wasn't much difference between the top 4.  Seriously there was no clear cut team going into the playoff and Ohio St kind of backed into the game.
 
Baylor and TCU got screwed for scheduling 3 cupcakes.  Team are going notice it.
 
I don't understand what makes a 8 team playoff good.  There has not been one season of college football where you could argue there was 5 or more teams that should have been National Champions.  I really don't need another week of College Football between the conference championships and the bowl games.  You are right in the middle of NFL playoff push.  When you let 8 teams in you give teams more of buffer and take some of the excitement out of the regular season.  Also it really diminishes the reason for a strong OOC schedule.
 
[SIZE=13.63636302948px]You keep saying this, but Minnesota was arguably better than any of the teams on Ohio St's OOC schedule.  The best team Ohio St faced out of conference was either a Cincinnati team that finished 9-4 on an absolute creampuff schedule or a Virginia Tech team (that they lost to, btw) that wasn't even bowl eligible until after Thanksgiving.  Furthermore, the selection committee seemed to have no problem with TCU's out of conference schedule when they had them #3 in the penultimate rankings.  It only became an issue when OSU kicked the crap out of Wisconsin and TCU (due to the lack of a conference champ game) did the only thing they could do, which was beat the crap out of the last Big 12 also-ran on their schedule.  If the playoff committee had just shut their traps all year and put OSU #4 in the end, I'd be ok with that.  But when the #3 team (by the committee's own estimation) gets moved to #6 for beating a team 55-3, then I'm in favor of expanding the playoffs so that a dumb, capricious move like that doesn't screw a deserving team over in future.[/SIZE]
 

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TomRicardo said:
 
This is a year there wasn't much difference between the top 4.  Seriously there was no clear cut team going into the playoff and Ohio St kind of backed into the game.
 
Baylor and TCU got screwed for scheduling 3 cupcakes.  Team are going notice it.
 
I don't understand what makes a 8 team playoff good.  There has not been one season of college football where you could argue there was 5 or more teams that should have been National Champions.  I really don't need another week of College Football between the conference championships and the bowl games.  You are right in the middle of NFL playoff push.  When you let 8 teams in you give teams more of buffer and take some of the excitement out of the regular season.  Also it really diminishes the reason for a strong OOC schedule.
 
I think the only advantage to 8 is that you may see a non-power conference team (like Boise St, Marshall, Northern Illinois, Memphis, etc.) get a berth in an 8-team field where that will probably never happen in the 4-team field. Instead, we will see 1 of the 5 power conferences complain that they didn't get a seat at the table, with the Big 12 getting to play that role this year.
 
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Have 5 teams, make team 4 and 5 have a play-in game. Reward the top team by playing a beaten up team in the semis.  5 also works in the current system, you can have your 5 conf champions.  It would have been great to have OSU battle either Baylor or TCU.
 
In any case, 4, 5 ,6  all are fine. It's 16 that's pushing it.
 
 
Both sides are right about 8. Itr does cheapen the regular season, but you also get all the deserbving teams in and it would be entertaining.
 

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One thing that I don't like about the NCAA basketball tournament is that very often, the team that wins the title is not the best team.  Connecticut certainly wasn't the best team in the country last season.  If the polls didn't traditionally put the tournament winner at #1, they wouldn't have been voted there.
 
The nice thing about the BCS system was that the national championship always went to a team that could, by the end of bowl season, claim to be the best team in the country.  This season, there were perhaps six teams that could have plausibly claimed to be the best college football team if they won a playoff, and both Ohio State and Oregon would be the one-loss team with the strongest schedule if they win the title game (including bowl wins).  But, that's more than in most seasons.  Often there are 2-3 teams that can plausibly be best, and I can't think of a case in which 8 teams would be able to have a strong claim if they won out.  In some years, you might have a 3-loss team winning the title while other teams finish with 1 loss, for example.  It would even be possible for a 3-loss team to win the title by beating a previously-undefeated team in their third meeting.
 
The other thing I like about the current system is that it inevitably will lead to a break in college football between the Power 5 and the others.  Once you expect that the weakest conference champ won't make it, conference will try and make their teams schedule only power-conference teams in an effort to make sure their champ qualifies, just as the Missouri Valley gamed the RPI system for a few years in basketball.  So ultimately we get more meaningful games in the first month, which can't help but be good as a fan.  The current system comes about because teams value bowl qualification but don't see a downside to having a cupcake schedule, and essentially eliminating the team with the weakest schedule will make sure that at least the strong teams play a real schedule.
 

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Dan to Theo to Ben said:
Have 5 teams, make team 4 and 5 have a play-in game. Reward the top team by playing a beaten up team in the semis.  5 also works in the current system, you can have your 5 conf champions.  It would have been great to have OSU battle either Baylor or TCU.
 
In any case, 4, 5 ,6  all are fine. It's 16 that's pushing it.
 
 
Both sides are right about 8. Itr does cheapen the regular season, but you also get all the deserbving teams in and it would be entertaining.
 
 
I like this concept, except for with 6 teams. Then you have the five conference champs (with some rule like they have to be in the top 10) and one at large. So this year you would have had the four playoff teams plus Baylor and TCU.  FSU and OSU would have played Baylor and TCU in late December for the right to make the playoff games. 
 

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This would never, ever happen for many reasons with TV being foremost among them, but my dream scenario would be for the number of teams in the playoff to not be fixed. Tell the committee they can invite as few as two or as many as eight to play for the championship and let them decide who deserves a shot.
 

TomRicardo

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Dan to Theo to Ben said:
Have 5 teams, make team 4 and 5 have a play-in game. Reward the top team by playing a beaten up team in the semis.  5 also works in the current system, you can have your 5 conf champions.  It would have been great to have OSU battle either Baylor or TCU.
 
In any case, 4, 5 ,6  all are fine. It's 16 that's pushing it.
 
 
Both sides are right about 8. Itr does cheapen the regular season, but you also get all the deserbving teams in and it would be entertaining.
 
I don't want another week of college football.
 
I just don't think you need it.
 
The reason there is a 4 team playoff is there have been seasons where you had three teams that could legitimately say they were national champion.  Last time you had more than 4 teams claiming a National championship was 1973 but that was because UPI voted before the bowls (Notre Dame beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl), Oklahoma couldn't play in a bowl and Ohio St and Michigan tied.
 

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BigSoxFan said:
I could get behind this as a compromise to those who don't want 8 teams. But I also don't understand the whole "cheapens the regular season" argument. I'd argue that it makes the regular season MORE interesting because it would keep more teams in the hunt and, thus create more interesting games down the stretch. I mean, do those same people hate the NFL's wild card system? Hey, win your division, losers!
This is how I see it too. On one level, of course adding more playoff rounds "cheapens the regular season" as a means of determining a champion. That's always true. But more playoff rounds/teams enhances the regular season by increasing the number of games that are meaningful for playoff qualification. That's also always true. On balance, its a good tradeoff in my opinion.

I'm not a huge college football guy so on some level I just can't relate to the bowl hoopla and am willing to admit that. But, as a fan, I'd much rather see four additional exciting playoff games with national title implications (ie, the first round in an eight team playoff) than a couple additional bowls like TCU-OleMiss with nothing but pride on the line and in which one team hardly shows up. I think the casual fan basically agrees with me, and the casual fan is what ultimately drives TV ratings and money, so I assume that this side of the argument is ultimately going to win the day.
 

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TomRicardo said:
 
This is a year there wasn't much difference between the top 4.  Seriously there was no clear cut team going into the playoff and Ohio St kind of backed into the game.
 
Baylor and TCU got screwed for scheduling 3 cupcakes.  Team are going notice it.
 
I don't understand what makes a 8 team playoff good.  There has not been one season of college football where you could argue there was 5 or more teams that should have been National Champions.  I really don't need another week of College Football between the conference championships and the bowl games.  You are right in the middle of NFL playoff push.  When you let 8 teams in you give teams more of buffer and take some of the excitement out of the regular season.  Also it really diminishes the reason for a strong OOC schedule.
 
This is the key point.  There is no real argument that this year or any year the "true" number one team was not in the top four.  You can say that Baylor or TCU should have been in the mix but you can't credibly argue that they were the clear number 1 team.
 
Let's keep the four team system for a few years and see how it percolates.  So far it is a huge success.
 

TomRicardo

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Adding four more teams cuts the tension on regular season games.  In college football right now every game is like a playoff especially if you are not in the SEC.  One loss is enough to potentially knock you out of the playoff.  You add four more teams and two loss teams will be able to get in.
 

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The Long Tater said:
This is the key point.  There is no real argument that this year or any year the "true" number one team was not in the top four.  You can say that Baylor or TCU should have been in the mix but you can't credibly argue that they were the clear number 1 team.
 
Let's keep the four team system for a few years and see how it percolates.  So far it is a huge success.
So what? That's true for every sport. Should the NFL just have Conference Championship games and nothing else because the best teams going into the playoffs are always among the top four? Should NCAA basketball just start at the elite eight and get rid of the rest of the tournament?
 

The Long Tater

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The "clear number 1 team" in a lot of peoples' eyes just got beat by the team that many felt didn't belong. I understand the point that you're making but I don't fully see the relevance. Just look at the NFL and see how many times the "clear number 1" doesn't win the SB. I think you'd see some of that in college football as well, which would make for exciting viewing. I mean, imagine if the 2 loss Aggies with Manziel had been in a playoff system. By the end of the year, they were playing as well as anyone. Could they have made a magical run? Who knows but those are the kinds of situations I'd enjoy seeing play out.
 
Or, it would become like college basketball, where all that matters is the tournament and the regular season is irrelevant.  Is there any possibility that Kentucky or Kansas or Carolina isn't going to get in?  I'm not going down the rabbit hole of whether the current basketball format is a good thing or not, but it does change the dynamic significantly.  For reasons already pointed out, a limited field makes for a different dynamic in the regular season.  It is one that people like.  In football it may be a better match.
 
I vote with Tom on this one, but here is a place where chocolate and vanilla are both reasonable choices.
 

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Dan to Theo to Ben said:
It's another game, not another week. Just play during army navy week
 
Agree.
 
I think there should be 6. The top 2 get a "bye" to the semifinal. The bottom 4 play at the higher seeds home field on Army-Navy weekend ( usually the week after the conference championships. Play Army-Navy at noon ET, Play in game 1 at 4ET, Play in game 2 would be at 8ET. Using this years rankings you would have had TCU at FSU, and Baylor at tOSU on Dec. 12th. The winners would go to the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl playing Alabama and Oregon. The losers of the play in game would play in one of the non qualifying New Years 6 games, as was actually done this year. This way everybody has a shot at making it from whatever conference you are in or if you are an independent. It doesn't extend the season at all and the bowl pairings are basically set for New years as well as the Tier 1 bowls. And it doesn't cheapen the regular season. I think we learned form Baylor and TCU that   
 
a.- You need a conference championship to determine a winner;
b.-You need a relatively strong OOC schedule. (and win those OOC games)
 
I think those two (2) issues make the regular season relevant and moving to 6 teams is reasonable and gives more teams a shot.
 

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If you have to win your conference to get a guaranteed spot, you just made every conference game more important. There's also seeding: If you get in as an at-large, you are almost certainly going on the road in the quarterfinals, which makes winning your conference, and having a higher seed, very important. 
 
Lost in the shuffle here: if you make it easier for teams with 1 or even 2 losses to get into an eight-team field, won't teams be more likely to schedule better non-conference opponents to improve their strength of schedule, knowing they can afford the odd hiccup and still make the Elite Eight? Doesn't that lead to a higher quality of regular season play? I feel like a two-loss team with a great schedule is more likely to beat out a one-loss team with a crappy schedule than a one-loss team with a great schedule is to beat out an undefeated team with a crappy schedule - FSU this year being a perfect example of the latter.
 

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I would argue the opposite.  One would assume that an expansion to 8 teams would guarantee each of the big conference champs an automatic bid.
Since the committee has already shown they put a priority on strength of schedule, I don't see why teams would schedule cupcakes.  In the 8 team system a random out of conference loss no longer ruins your season.  Ohio st. can schedule someone like Auburn and know even if they lose it won't effect winning the Big10 and making the playoffs.  And if they do win...Than having the big out of conference wins should be a priority for the large group of teams lobbying to be one of the 3 at-large bids.
(edit* - Missed that ConigliarosPotential basically made the same point a couple posts up...So I obviously agree with that. )
 
I always thought the "playoff will ruin the regular season" argument was foolish, and I believe this season has proven that.  I have little reason to believe this isn't the case again when people worry about expanding to 8.
I will say though that 8 most likely is the sweet spot.  When we had the BCS i used to argue for 16 and create my own formulas for such a system...but I have been persuaded that 16 is likely too many.
 

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rymflaherty said:
I would argue the opposite.  One would assume that an expansion to 8 teams would guarantee each of the big conference champs an automatic bid.
Since the committee has already shown they put a priority on strength of schedule, I don't see why teams would schedule cupcakes.  In the 8 team system a random out of conference loss no longer ruins your season.  Ohio st. can schedule someone like Auburn and know even if they lose it won't effect winning the Big10 and making the playoffs.  And if they do win...Than having the big out of conference wins should be a priority for the large group of teams lobbying to be one of the 3 at-large bids.
(edit* - Missed that ConigliarosPotential basically made the same point a couple posts up...So I obviously agree with that. )
 
I always thought the "playoff will ruin the regular season" argument was foolish, and I believe this season has proven that.  I have little reason to believe this isn't the case again when people worry about expanding to 8.
I will say though that 8 most likely is the sweet spot.  When we had the BCS i used to argue for 16 and create my own formulas for such a system...but I have been persuaded that 16 is likely too many.
+1
 
The "playoffs ruining the regular season" argument just went right out the window this season.  Regular season was much more exciting with more teams in the mix.
 
The regular season is a too small of a sample size to determine the best team (12-13 games).  NCAA would benefit from an 8 team playoff, it would make crowning a champion less subjective and lose some voter bias-ness.
 
Playoffs work in every other sport alive, not sure why college football has not gone this way sooner (other then $$$ lining the pockets of NCAA Bowl Committee members).
 

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benhogan said:
+1
 
The "playoffs ruining the regular season" argument just went right out the window this season.  Regular season was much more exciting with more teams in the mix.
 
The regular season is a too small of a sample size to determine the best team (12-13 games).  NCAA would benefit from an 8 team playoff, it would make crowning a champion less subjective and lose some voter bias-ness.
 
Playoffs work in every other sport alive, not sure why college football has not gone this way sooner (other then $$$ lining the pockets of NCAA Bowl Committee members).
There is nothing better for the 24 hour sports "news" cycle than college football. Hell, Vince McMahon probably sits in envy of the machine college football has become. The BCS was a giant step forward for the sport. In 1990, you had co-national champions in Georgia Tech and Colorado. On New Years Day, Tech was putting a whoopin on #19 Nebraska in the Citrus Bowl. While Colorado beat #5 Notre Dame by a point (10-9 - remember when defense existed in college football) in the Orange Bowl. Straight up legitimate nonsense.
 
Since the BCS, more than any other sport, college football has crowned its best team National Champion. And they've done so by creating crazy amounts of interest in the scrum. No regular season is more important than college football. And now with advanced metrics, even things like time spent leading cupcake teams in September matters. The 4 team playoff strikes the right balance between integrity of competition and fueling interest in the regular season. The "we're #4" thing spreads the wealth far enough while preserving the intrigue fueled by the debate.
 

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TomRicardo said:
 
Baylor and TCU got screwed for scheduling 3 cupcakes.  Team are going notice it.
 
If this season has proven anything, it's that four teams is not enough.
 
TCU walloped Minnesota, which the committee continually referenced as a great win for Ohio State, 30-7 back in its second game. TCU played nine conference games, the same as Ohio State, losing only by a field goal, on the final play, at a top-10 opponent.
 
And Baylor, for as much as the committee loved to talk about its weak non-conference slate of SMU, Northwestern State and (at) Buffalo as a reason to penalize the Bears in the rankings, it never once talked about Mississippi State plowing through Southern Miss, UAB, (at) South Alabama and Tennessee-Martin. The Bulldogs were never penalized for that non-conference dumpster fire, and they were still ranked No. 4 by the committee going into Thanksgiving. It never made much sense for Jeff Long to bag on Baylor's schedule each and every week while remaining silent about Mississippi State's.
 

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Hosting at a playoff game at a school can be problematic as some have less than stellar accomodations for press and TV. A main reason PAC-12 went to neutral site was schools like UofA, Washington St, and Oregon St just don't have a stadium that can handle it.
 
The good part is there's a 12 year contract, so we'll have plenty of time to argue about it. Totally agree that 8 teams would hurt regular season as teams that pretty much know they are in may sit players and we ruin the every week matter aspect of college football for an extra set of games that 'matter.'
 

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It'll never cease to amaze me that so many folks want to speculate about what would happen if they expanded the field, what effect it would have on the regular season, what it would do to the players, etc., etc.  People just need to look no further than the other college football division, called the FCS, which has been using a playoff system for many, many years, and for those that don't know.  IT IS FUCKING AWESOME. 
 
Nobody ever argues that the regular season is cheapened, or that they play too many games, or that the best team doesn't always win (Hello North Dakota State) or that it's not necessary because the 14th team or whatever, doesn't have a legitimate argument anyway.  It's all nonsense.  The only reason it hasn't happened in the FBS is money.  That's it.  The system works.
 
This idea that expanding the field would cheapen the regular season is just ludicrous.  There is probably no other sport with a playoff system in which seeding is more important than football.  Especially if an expansion leads to putting some of the earlier playoff games on teams campuses.  Seems to me it was pretty damn important for the Patriots to play well in their regular season and get that #1 seed and home field this year.  If teams think an 8 team (or more, if I had my way) would lead to more cupcake scheduling, I suspect that would end pretty quickly when those 1 loss teams with cupcake schedules are going on the road as an 8 seed to play the #1 seed, or are seeded lower than 2 loss teams with a better strength of schedule.  The regular season is always going to matter, whether it's a 4 team playoff or a 32 team playoff (no, I'm not arguing for a 32 team playoff) because it affects who you play when the playoffs do roll around. 
 
Give me more football.  Period.
 
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benhogan said:
NCAA would benefit from an 8 team playoff, it would make crowning a champion less subjective and lose some voter bias-ness.
 
Playoffs work in every other sport alive, not sure why college football has not gone this way sooner (other then $$$ lining the pockets of NCAA Bowl Committee members).
 
This is a misconception I've seen in a couple other threads on this board, so let me clear something up: the NCAA doesn't run the FBS postseason.  It runs the FCS postseason - their 24-team tournament crowns an "NCAA champion".
 
So who does run the FBS postseason?  The conferences, effectively.  Where their constituency is the presidents of the universities involved.  They've essentially always managed their own affairs, at least since the 1984 Supreme Court antitrust decision that handed control of the televising of football contests back to the schools involved.  So the BCS was a negotiated compromise between the conferences involved (mostly to exclude the teams who weren't part of the 6 relevant conferences), and the NCAA had little to do with it beyond officiating.  The same is true for this new playoff, which is again an agreement between the BCS conferences, the various bowls, etc.  The NCAA has remarkably little control when it comes to the when, where and how of (Div 1-A) football.  Basketball, much more so.  All the rest of the sports, almost entirely so.
 

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Deathofthebambino said:
It'll never cease to amaze me that so many folks want to speculate about what would happen if they expanded the field, what effect it would have on the regular season, what it would do to the players, etc., etc.  People just need to look no further than the other college football division, called the FCS, which has been using a playoff system for many, many years, and for those that don't know.  IT IS FUCKING AWESOME. 
 
Nobody ever argues that the regular season is cheapened,
 
 
Meh - no one really pays any attention to the FCS regular season except the colleges themselves and the diehards.  It's hard to cheapen something that no one knows exists.  Probably not a good comp for the BCS.
 

Deathofthebambino

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I don't even know what that means.  Nobody really paying attention to the FCS regular season doesn't change the fact that it's still important as far as the playoffs go.  If nobody paid attention to the FBS regular season, adding 4 teams to the playoff wouldn't make it any more or less important.  The fact of the matter is the regular season is and will always be important, whether there is a 4 team playoff, an 8 team playoff, a 16 team playoff or a 24 team playoff.  The bottom line is that the regular season ultimately determines seeding for the playoffs, and as we've seen in every football league or division that has a playoff, seeding is massively important, so this belief that the regular season will be cheapened by adding playoff teams makes no sense.
 

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I'm an advocate for an 8 team format. I like 4, but I don't like that a conference was excluded (although the Big12 is dumb for not having a championship game) or even that the next few teams didn't get a chance. I think an 8 team playoff would all be awesome games and more bowls would get prestige (from 3 to 7) if the first round was played at neutral sites and not on campuses (would the major bowls push back on the idea for the same reason?). My issue with a 5 or 6 team format is that a bye in a FBS college football playoff would be too big of an advantage for the top seeds when it's this difficult to compare teams. I don't worry too much about the OOC schedule because if you choose the best format (again, 8 teams to me) and have the right selection process, the scheduling issues will resolve themselves as necessary.
 

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Zososoxfan said:
(although the Big12 is dumb for not having a championship game)
They have a full round robin regular season, why should they have to have a championship game?
 

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Mr. Wednesday said:
They have a full round robin regular season, why should they have to have a championship game?
 
Because it guarantees one team in the division is going to have a huge win at the end of the season. Look no further than this year where Ohio State is in the playoff because of the thrashing they gave to Wisc. 
 

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An 8-team playoff won't weaken the field if an onus on automatic bids for the major conferences is part of the package. If anything, it will provide the regular season with equally important meaning to all conference teams: win your conference. A procedure will still need to be figured out to round out the field, but human error and bias in the selection process becomes a detail rather than a fundamental aspect of it. No major school would be able to claim the system cheated them out of a chance to play for the National Championship.

No sane person would ever devise the current system, but it would be impossible to destroy it and start over for various reasons (financial interests, mostly). An 8-team playoff with automatic conference bids significantly improves the fairness of the competition without drastically changing the current system.
 

Fred in Lynn

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To add, I think as much as possible should be done to remove the influence of algorithms, opinion, voting, etc. from the week-to-week process. Lay out the criteria for entry into the playoff (e.g., win your conference and and you're in) in advance. The week-to-week juggling of opinion vis a vis the polls/rankings is nuts for a competitive event, unless that competitive event is figure skating. It defies logic in a team sporting event if the purpose is a fair and open competition. If it's to make money first and foremost then controversy as we have now and have always had works. People talk, they tune in, money is made. I'm soaking in it now, Madge.
 

WayBackVazquez

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Fred in Lynn said:
An 8-team playoff won't weaken the field if an onus on automatic bids for the major conferences is part of the package. If anything, it will provide the regular season with equally important meaning to all conference teams: win your conference. A procedure will still need to be figured out to round out the field, but human error and bias in the selection process becomes a detail rather than a fundamental aspect of it. No major school would be able to claim the system cheated them out of a chance to play for the National Championship.
No sane person would ever devise the current system, but it would be impossible to destroy it and start over for various reasons (financial interests, mostly). An 8-team playoff with automatic conference bids significantly improves the fairness of the competition without drastically changing the current system.
Auto bids for CCG winners most certainly would drastically change the current system, and would regularly lead to pretty shitty teams being included in a small playoff, while much better teams are left out. Why should a four (or even five or six) loss team be in the playoffs just because it was lucky to be in the worse division of a major conference and then won a single game against one of the potentially three or four better teams in the other division (including some who may have beaten it in the regular season). See Wisconsin a couple of years ago.
 

Royal Reader

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Couple of relevant points:
 
1) There is a reasonably good argument that TCU is the best team in the country.  On the other hand, if there's a unique Big 12 champ, it's Baylor and not TCU because if you do tiebreak, H2H obviously has to be the first tiebreaker.  Both "Who are we guessing is the objectively best team?" and "What actually happened on the field this year?" are relevant questions.
2) An 8-team playoff this year under the proposed "5 champs, one mid-major champ, and two wild cards" would have lead to 2-loss Boise being in.
3) Should the NFL change to the college system?  Nope.  But that doesn't mean it's unreasonable for people to prefer a season where virtually every game is do or die if you want to be a national contender vs one where you have teams sitting guys in the last week.  Who the hell wants to see, say, Auburn winning the SEC West with a game to spare then resting starters for the Iron Bowl?  The systems have different advantages and disadvantages.  I feel CFB has the best regular season of any sport, and while a 4-team playoff doesn't water that down too much (because you not only have to win your conference but also not be the least-impressive conference champion) I worry that 8 would.  See how relatively little people care about the NBA or CBB regular-seasons.
 

WayBackVazquez

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It'll go to 8 teams, but there will not be auto bids for CG winners. If you're from a power conference and you won your CCG and still couldn't get into an 8-team slate, then you had a really crappy season and didn't deserve to be there.
 
WayBackVazquez said:
Auto bids for CCG winners most certainly would drastically change the current system, and would regularly lead to pretty shitty teams being included in a small playoff, while much better teams are left out. Why should a four (or even five or six) loss team be in the playoffs just because it was lucky to be in the worse division of a major conference and then won a single game against one of the potentially three or four better teams in the other division (including some who may have beaten it in the regular season). See Wisconsin a couple of years ago.
 
+1 to this. The 2014 season was not representative of the distribution you'd normally get from the five major conferences: it just so happens that this year all five conferences had at least one deserving team, but in many years you'll get at least one team with 2 or more losses win a weak conference, and the committee shouldn't be forced to slide that team into an eight-team playoff. Possibly more importantly, this system could dramatically increase the importance of certain conference championship games. For example, I root for Georgia Tech, but if they had upset FSU in the ACC title game, there's no way I'd have thought at that stage they were one of the best 8 teams in the country. What if Missouri had somehow upset Alabama in the SEC title game, or Wisconsin had defeated Ohio State in the B1G title game? THAT sort of thing is what would diminish the importance of the regular season: one lucky win in a conference title game after finishing top of the weaker half of a conference should not get you into the playoffs.
 
I could buy the idea that you'd automatically get into the playoffs by winning your conference if and only if you were ranked as one of the top two teams in your conference before the title game weekend. I could also envision a system whereby the best team outside of the Power 5 conferences might get special consideration - e.g., the highest ranked undefeated team meeting these criteria would get a spot in the playoff, but a team like Boise State this year wouldn't. But these ideas seem slightly convoluted, so I'm probably happiest with a straight selection of the top 8 by the committee.
 

cannonball 1729

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Royal Reader said:
Couple of relevant points:
3) Should the NFL change to the college system?  Nope.  But that doesn't mean it's unreasonable for people to prefer a season where virtually every game is do or die if you want to be a national contender vs one where you have teams sitting guys in the last week.  Who the hell wants to see, say, Auburn winning the SEC West with a game to spare then resting starters for the Iron Bowl?  The systems have different advantages and disadvantages.  I feel CFB has the best regular season of any sport, and while a 4-team playoff doesn't water that down too much (because you not only have to win your conference but also not be the least-impressive conference champion) I worry that 8 would.  See how relatively little people care about the NBA or CBB regular-seasons.
 
This is exactly where I am.  CFB is the one sport where the best teams actually have to try to win every single game.  There's no other sport that can say that - the NFL's week 17 is exciting for teams on the bubble, but the best teams are often resting that week.  Even if we were to try to eliminate some of the incentive for resting by throwing seeding considerations into the mix, that could only take us so far because the semi-finals and finals are guaranteed to be at a neutral site.
 
CFB is also the only sport that makes an effort to have the champion actually be the team that played the best over the entire year, not just at some tournament at the end.  
 
To the point about comparing to the FCS earlier: for leagues like the FCS, you probably actually need an elaborate tournament to determine a champion, but that's because the conferences don't actually play each other - the average FCS team only plays 1.) opponents within its own conference, 2.) Div. II teams that happen to be nearby and function as good homecoming opponents, and 3.) BCS teams that need a homecoming opponent.  There's no objective way to compare, say, ND State with UNH without a tournament.  That's not really true of the BCS, though - there's quite a bit of play between conferences.
 
 
BigSoxFan said:
You can't really compare basketball to football. It's a completely different animal when you have 30/82 games vs. 12/16. But I'll also say that the conference tournaments in college hoops are incredibly popular because the winner is guaranteed a spot in the dance. If college football adopted a similar system, then I think it'd enhance the end of the season because more teams would have a chance. Sure, you'd eventually have some 3 or 4 loss team making the playoffs but that's a trade off I'm willing to make. Chances are that team would then be eliminated in the QF round anyways and we'd still be left with fun matchups in the semis. And if they aren't, then it'd be fun watching some Cinderella run to a title. All in all, I think the positives of an 8 team playoff system would outweigh the negatives. Of course, I have no idea how they'd handle the Notre Dame problem.
 
Conference tournaments are awesome, and for small conferences, they're the only way that you can get a national audience to watch.  But they make the rest of the season completely meaningless.  I work at a small D1 school that's probably the best team in its basketball conference this year, and let me tell you....it couldn't matter less.  There are four games in March that matter.  A team could win every game from now until March 1 and no one would care.
 
And Cinderella stories are fun - except when they end up playing other Cinderellas.  Look no further than the UConn-Butler clanktastic national title game for what happens when two teams playing over their heads meet in a meaningful game.
 

Zososoxfan

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Going to 8 would likely grant auto bids to the conference winners and would make conference championship games even more exciting than they already are. If a juggernaut happened to lose to a weak team that won a weak division, they would still have the chance to qualify through an at large bid and if they don't qualify that way, then either they didn't deserve to be in the final 8 or the flaw is with the selection process. Getting a midmajor like Boise in there is also a really cool consequence of such a setup.

There is some merit to the notion that a few regular games might be rendered meaningless in the standings, but having the best teams from across conferences play each other in more games that matter more than offsets that concern IMHO. Moreover, with the threat of losing a CCG, I doubt many coaches would rest their players in any games. In sum, I think the fears of diluting the regular are being overblown and in any event, are obscuring the fact that getting more of the best teams playing each other in playoff games would be the tits.
 

WayBackVazquez

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Zososoxfan said:
Going to 8 would likely grant auto bids to the conference winners and would make conference championship games even more exciting than they already are. If a juggernaut happened to lose to a weak team that won a weak division, they would still have the chance to qualify through an at large bid and if they don't qualify that way, then either they didn't deserve to be in the final 8 or the flaw is with the selection process.
Nobody is concerned about the feelings of the "juggernaut" who lost its CCG. The concern is being stuck with the weak team in the weak division at the expense of the last team left out. In fact, it's even worse if the "juggernaut" also gets in as an at-large, IMO.

The reason conference tourney winners get into the basketball tourney is not because they represent the best teams. It's a bone thrown to the smaller conferences and a last chance at season salvage for the teams that had crappy years in the majors. But the teams that actually have a chance to win the thing are or would be at-large picks. You can afford the noise in a 64-team tourney, but not an 8-team one. I want to see the best teams play; I don't give a shit about rewarding UConn or Wisconsin because they won their league in a down year.
 

Infield Infidel

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There are too many teams and not enough games for us to get reasonable certainty as to who the best teams are. In the BCS they couldn't even figure out who the top 2 were, there were times when 3-6 had claims on #2, and they're going to figure out a top 8? I'm not even saying #9 has an argument for #8, I'm saying 9-20 probably have arguments. Are we sure #15 UCLA isn't better than #7 Miss St? Often, teams with more losses are better than teams with fewer losses. By F/+, there were 2 teams with 3 losses rated better than unbeaten FSU, never mind the 3 1-loss teams and a 2-loss team rated higher. There should be something in the system that mitigates committee subjectivity and bias, because there isn't enough information out there for them to pin it down. The best we got are educated guesses, which are fine but should be mitigated.  
 
If a completely unworthy team gets in because they won their conference in a down year, or an upset in the CCG, it will be a rarity. (And Wisconsin only got in because two superior teams had post-season bans, a rarity that bloomed from a fluke.) Generally, 9-win teams in Power conferences are ranked in the top 20, and sometimes 9 wins teams are better than 10-12 win teams. Rarely has a team with fewer than 9 wins won a power conference title game. 3 times in all 55 conference title games going back to the first SEC title game. The two besides Wisconsin, 05 FSU and 08 VT, were even ranked going into the title game. The 5-6% of the time that happens, they'd draw an 8 seed and play the #1. 
 

WayBackVazquez

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It won't be a rarity, it happens all the time. Both the Big Ten and ACC CCG winners were outside the top 8 in 2011 and 2012
 

Zososoxfan

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Infield Infidel said:
How do you know that the top 8 are the 8 best teams?
 
You don't, but you have a better chance of having the best team and really, the top 2 (or 3 or 4) in the country in the top 8 than the top 2 or top 4.
 

Stevie1der

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The point of an eight team playoff is not to identify the top eight teams with 100% accuracy.  You're never going to be able to objectively determine the eight best teams in the country because of the disparate schedules through different conferences.  The point of an eight team playoff is that this seems to be the magic number for inclusion of all teams that may have a legitimate claim as best team.  Sure there will be handwringing over whether a two loss SEC team should make it over a two loss Pac 12 team for that last number eight spot, but at the end of the day nobody outside of the slighted fanbase is going to shed any tears over the omitted team.  They shouldn't have lost two games.
 

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ConigliarosPotential said:
Lost in the shuffle here: if you make it easier for teams with 1 or even 2 losses to get into an eight-team field, won't teams be more likely to schedule better non-conference opponents to improve their strength of schedule, knowing they can afford the odd hiccup and still make the Elite Eight? Doesn't that lead to a higher quality of regular season play? I feel like a two-loss team with a great schedule is more likely to beat out a one-loss team with a crappy schedule than a one-loss team with a great schedule is to beat out an undefeated team with a crappy schedule - FSU this year being a perfect example of the latter.
 
I am no FSU fan, but their non-conference schedule is far stronger this year than any of the other contenders. The Clemson and Georgia Tech bowl performances, as well as the ACC's performance against the SEC on the last weekend of the season demonstrated that the ACC wasn't a train wreck, plus they faced Big 12, SEC, and Notre Dame as out-of-conference foe. Show me an SEC, Big 12, or Big 10 team that scheduled up that impressively out of conference.
 

TomRicardo

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rymflaherty said:
I would argue the opposite.  One would assume that an expansion to 8 teams would guarantee each of the big conference champs an automatic bid.
Since the committee has already shown they put a priority on strength of schedule, I don't see why teams would schedule cupcakes.  In the 8 team system a random out of conference loss no longer ruins your season.  Ohio st. can schedule someone like Auburn and know even if they lose it won't effect winning the Big10 and making the playoffs.  And if they do win...Than having the big out of conference wins should be a priority for the large group of teams lobbying to be one of the 3 at-large bids.
(edit* - Missed that ConigliarosPotential basically made the same point a couple posts up...So I obviously agree with that. )
 
I always thought the "playoff will ruin the regular season" argument was foolish, and I believe this season has proven that.  I have little reason to believe this isn't the case again when people worry about expanding to 8.
I will say though that 8 most likely is the sweet spot.  When we had the BCS i used to argue for 16 and create my own formulas for such a system...but I have been persuaded that 16 is likely too many.
 
The difference between 4 teams and 8 teams is massive.  This was as flat a season as there has been in college football and there is still no reason to believe that 4 teams was not enough to determine a national champion.  Also why are we giving big conferences bids?  What did the Big 12 do at all this year to make anyone think they belonged in any shape or form in a conversation for the National Championship.  Big 12 was awful.
 
The reason why college football's regular season is so interesting is that one loss can ruin your season.  Every single game matters.  I am sitting watching SEC games I never would watch this season to see if Mississippi St loses or if Michigan can upset Ohio St. Hell I watched the Arizona Arizona st game.  I don't watch any of those if it is a 8 team system.  It is too watered down for me to care.  Plus I get annoyed if in some crappy Quarterfinal game Mariotta gets hurt.  I just don't have a ton of interest watching Alabama - Michigan St a week after Thanksgiving the way I did to watch the Rose Bowl with implications on New Year's Day.
 
March Madness is great because the NCAA basketball season is so long that losses don't matter.  You go from a marathon to a sprint.
 
College Football is the high stakes regular season in sports.  Why would you want to water it down more than you had to?  The reason the four team playoff makes sense is because there are years (this one included) that you have three teams you would consider national champion at the end of the season.  Seriously if there was no playoff this year who is left out of the Championship Florida St, Alabama, or Oregon?  
 
No one thinks Michigan St should have been named National Champion.  By increasing the teams to 8 you are saying 10-2 Michigan St should have the same claim as Alabama.  After their regular seasons that is a ridiculous statement.