Who Deserves National Championship Consideration?
As will be my custom when presenting an idea to fix the BCS, I will describe the idea here and flush out the details after the jump.
National Championship System eligibility requirements:
- All undefeated teams.
- All teams above the first significant gap in the BCS standings.
A team's schedule must include at least two teams that were ranked in the top 25 in the final BCS standings in any of the past four years for a team to qualify as an undefeated team.
A significant gap equals an average ballot difference of 1.5 in the polls (0.06 using the current BCS formula).
Gaps between #1 and #2 are ignored. The second significant gap is also used if undefeated teams lower than #8 would not have a [quarterfinal] otherwise.
If more than eight teams qualify, the largest gap in the standings allowing at most eight teams is used.
If more than eight teams go undefeated the undefeated teams will be added from highest to lowest in the standings until the sum of the thirteen-win teams, twice the fourteen win teams and half of the twelve-win undefeated teams would exceed eight.
Most leagues design a formal tournament and attempt to shoehorn the teams into it each year. Usually elaborate tiebreakers are employed to procedurally settle close calls. Occasionally leagues might use wild card games to determine who will fill the final few spots in the formal tournament.
These designs fail to capture the unique character and results of each year's regular season. Rather than focus on which teams deserve which slots, inevitably leading to controversy at the cutoff, why not consider who deserves to be considered and create a flexible tournament that can handle a range of entrants?
Once this paradigm is considered the next question is what criteria should be used. The two most common sources of criticism lend themselves to be used as criteria.
Since the BCS has been created six teams have finish undefeated and were not considered for the national championship game. Including all undefeated teams draws the criticism that teams will water down their schedule to increase their chances. Requiring teams to schedule two teams that have finished in the top 25 in at least one of the past four years would mitigate this and be attainable for all teams.
Requiring teams that did not get into the top 8 of the BCS standings to play three rounds would force these teams to be further tested and require that the top four, at least, would have to lose a game in the tournament. This should be enough to secure their ability to secure the top spot in most computer ranking methods if they win the tournament.
Controversy caused by close teams at the cutoff is far more critical to the BCS because it forces the issue of the quality of the ranking system. Using a fixed cutoff (whether 2, 4, or more) produce the possibility of an arbitrarily small difference. Adding more teams can be shown to actually decrease the consensus at the cutoff. By using gaps in the standings a certain amount of consensus can be guaranteed for any reasonable ranking system.
The current system is also perceived as creating a moral hazard by allowing coaches to vote for teams that the institutions they represent have financial ties to. The current system has seen close situations where a handful of voters or a single computer could have changed the outcome. It would be far harder to manipulate the position and size of a gap in the standings.
The real beauty of my design is not how I select my teams, but how I handle two to eight teams participating while minimizing the disruption to the existing bowl traditions. Indeed, I have aimed to rebuild much of what the BCS has already eroded.
Here are the teams that would have been selected each year:
|2008||5||Oklahoma, Florida, Texas||Utah, Boise State|
|2007*||6||Ohio State, LSU||Hawaii||Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Georgia|
|2006||4||Ohio State, Michigan, Florida||Boise State|
|2005+||3||USC, Texas, Penn State|
|2004||5||USC, Oklahoma, Auburn||Utah, Boise State|
|2003||3||Oklahoma, LSU, USC|
|2002||2||Miami(FL), Ohio State|
|2001||4||Miami(FL), Nebraska, Colorado, Oregon|
|2000||3||Oklahoma, Florida State, Miami(FL)|
|1999||5||Florida State, Virginia Tech, Nebraska||Marshall||Alabama||Tennessee, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State|
|1998||6||Tennessee, Florida State||Tulane||Kansas State, Ohio State, UCLA|
* If Hawaii is excluded due to an insufficient schedule only two teams would have been selected in 2007.
+ In 2005 the current system is perceived to have gotten it right, yet this design would have included Penn State.
Average number of teams selected: 4.2 (*3.8)
Field expanded for low ranked teams: 3 (*2) out of 11 years
Cutoff criteria adjustment required: 1 out of 11 years
Undefeated regular season opponents with an insufficient schedule: 1 out of 21
Number of teams with an insufficient schedule in 2009: 7 out of 120 (all with losses)
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