Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Keegan: Football playoff overdue

January 9, 2008


College basketball awards the national championship to the last team standing after a 65-team, single-elimination tournament. College football allows sports writers, coaches and computers to decide which two teams get to play it off for the national title.

Why doesn't college basketball adopt football's system, have a ton of bowl games and have one of them count for the national title? Go ahead and ask that question at work this morning, and with any luck, co-workers will allow you back into the room after they laugh you out of it.

Some ears subconsciously will re-arrange the question to the commonly asked, "Why doesn't football adopt basketball's single-elimination tournament?" That's how Jeremy Case, a good listener, heard the question put to him after Kansas University swatted aside Loyola of Maryland, 90-60, Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

Other ears will laugh. That's what Sasha Kaun did.

Others will just answer with the obvious, suggesting that it's football that needs to adopt basketball's system, which was how Sherron Collins, a former high school football star in Chicago, responded.

"I think it would be good, but it's so hard on football players' bodies," Case said, hearing the question in transposed fashion. "I don't know if they could play that many games, but I think they're going to come up with a system eventually."

Asked the question again, Case laughed and said, "Oh, no, I don't want any part of that. I like it just the way it is."

Kaun tried not to laugh and said, "No, I think the tournament is the best way to decide because you have to be ready for every game."

How about football adopting basketball's system?

"I think it would be good, but it would be hard because football is one game a week, and it would stretch out for so long," Kaun said.

Collins said: "I think the last team standing should be the national champion. You actually play games to get there. In football, it's like you get voted, one team can lose, and another team can jump up four spots to first. It's confusing. In basketball, you've got to earn it."

Obviously, the notion of basketball switching to football's system for crowning a national champion lacks merit. In turn, football switching to basketball's system is long overdue.

Case raised a valid point, but lower divisions play 16-game elimination tournaments. Eliminate conference championship games, have an eight-team tournament, and let others play in bowl games. Under that scenario, two teams would play 15 games, four 14 games. Not a problem.

Under the current system, Kansas can beat a Virginia Tech team that had been ranked fifth and somehow finish ranked seventh, despite having a one-loss season with the only loss coming on a neutral field to Missouri, which emerged from that game ranked No. 1 in the nation and cleaned up in its bowl game.

USC lost to Stanford, West Virginia to Pittsburgh. Ohio State's best victory came against Michigan. All three teams lost two games. Kansas lost one. All three teams are ranked ahead of Kansas.

"That just shows how confusing it is to me and how confusing it should be to anybody," Collins said after scoring 18 points.

Collins made more than baskets Tuesday night. He made sense.


more_cowbell 10 years, 5 months ago

An eight team playoff represents a compromise, which is essentially the best we can hope for, but the system is so flawed already, and the politics so Byzantine (the bowl committees are like the medieval emperors, they choose teams practically at whim), that politics as the "art of compromise" can come up with something better.

Yesterday, the president of the Univ. of Georgia stated he was in favor of an eight-team playoff, and though he could eventually be brainwashed by his fellow SEC presidents (as the president of the Univ. of Florida was two years ago), at least we have someone in a position of power considering the idea.

Just be aware that an eight team playoff would probably require the following:

  1. That six automatic berths be reserved for the "BCS conference" champions: this year, that means Virginia Tech (ACC), West Virginia (Big East), Ohio State (Big "11"), Oklahoma (Big 12), USC (Pac 10), and LSU (SEC).

  2. That the other two berths would most likely go to (a) the highest-ranked "mid-major conference" champion and (b) the highest-ranked (in the "final", pre-bowl, BCS ranking) at-large team: this year, that means Hawaii and Georgia.

  3. That as a condition of participating, the Big "11" and Pac 10 will likely insist that their champions meet in the Rose Bowl. The only way to make sure this happens is in the round of eight, the quarterfinals.

  4. Following from that, the other three BCS bowls would fall into place as the other quarterfinal sites, either with their traditional conference affiliations, or by rotating "first choice" of the remaining teams.

  5. There would have to be some additional process to determine the semifinal and final sites and how the quartefinal winners match up in those. This might end up with a Super Bowl or "March Madness" type site, that changes each year, for the "Football Final Four" (to minimize travel costs for the four teams involved).

  6. In this system, one in which the conferences and the BCS bowls essentially retain the power they have now, but put it toward a better product (a playoff), the non-playoff bowls will suffer... but then again, they're already non-BCS bowls.

  7. Finally, the Jayhawks would have missed out on the playoffs (and a BCS bowl slot) under this scenario, being ranked #8 (Missouri was #6) in the final "pre-bowl" BCS ranking.

No matter how imperfect such a playoff scenario seems, it's not as messed up as what's there now! The "poll & bowl" pony show... :-p

Jock Navels 10 years, 5 months ago

the basketball tournament crowns 'national champions' of a season that get hot for 6 games...north carolina state, villanova and ku's 88 team for example. the tournamnet 'national champion' is no more valid than one picked, based on a regular season, by a coach's poll. There is nothing inherently wrong with the system as it is, nor was there anything wrong with the system before the bcs championship game. If you want to change the system I propose this...after spring practice a school notifies the ncaa as to whether or not it chooses to compete for the national championship. the first 64 teams to declare are in. those teams that do are placed in 8 round robin pools. the 8 pool winners play a further round robin schedule. the winner of the championship pool is a valid national champion. It would take 14 games. The rest of the schools could either join 1-AA or play some games and have a few bowl games, the 56 teams that don't make the championship pool could play another 7 games against each other.

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