Thursday, November 05, 2009

the Plus-one, or an alternative to the playoff

We've heard a bit of talk the last year or two about the possibility of moving to a "plus-one" system in college football (rather presumptuously referred to here as the "Mandel plan"). Under a plus-one system, the bowl system remains intact except for the BCS bowls themselves, two of which shift to a 4 team playoff with no. 1 and 2 hosting, an extra BCS bowl to keep 10 BCS bids (not sure why that matters), and a 6th BCS championship game a week later. Using Mandel's example for this year's teams:
• Jan. 1 Rose: No. 8 Oregon (Pac-10 champ) vs. No. 11 Penn Sate (replacement)

• Jan. 1 Sugar: No. 1 Florida (SEC champ) vs. No. 4 Cincinnati (Big East champ)

• Jan. 2 Cotton: No. 5 Alabama (first at-large) vs. No. 6 TCU (third at-large)

• Jan. 4 Fiesta: No. 2 Texas (Big 12 champ) vs. No. 3 Iowa (Big Ten champ)

• Jan. 5 Orange: No. 10 Ga. Tech (ACC champ) vs. No. 12 USC (second at-large)

• Jan. 12 title game: Sugar Bowl winner vs. Fiesta Bowl winner

This has one advantage over the current system: it at least allows the top 4 teams a shot at the championship, rather than just the top 2. That makes it better than the current system.

Of course, this setup is still worthless compared to an actual playoff with more than four teams. For one thing, non-BCS teams still have virtually no chance at getting into the playoff, despite the obvious silliness of handicapping teams like Boise St. and Utah who have made quite a name for themselves humiliating top 10 teams. There's also still a high probability that national championship contenders even from BCS conferences will be snubbed. Last year, for instance, there were 7 undefeated or one-loss teams just in the BCS games, including Southern Cal, Penn St., Utah, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma. How many of those do you think there will be at the end of this season?

Essentially, the plus-one still allows very little margin-of-error for an evaluative system (BCS rankings) that is highly, highly flawed and subjective.

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