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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:

  1. All undefeated teams.
  2. 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:

Year Number Top group Undefeated Expanded Contracted
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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Now try explaining this to your grandfather.

But honestly, this sounds like a really intelligent and logical system. Very little wrong with it especially compared to the BCS. Great post.

by Rich Town on Oct 18, 2009 10:04 PM EDT reply actions  

Ever tried to explain the BCS to a foreigner?

I think given the BCS or the above I could explain mine first.

BCS Evolution -- Punctuating the Equilibrium - twitter

by utesfan100 on Oct 19, 2009 12:39 AM EDT up reply actions  

Oh, definitely a valid point. I wasn’t trying to criticize you as much as make a joke. I think this system would be ten times better than a system where Texas gets left out of last year’s NC and an undefeated Auburn team out of the SEC gets shafted in ’04. Unacceptable.

by Rich Town on Oct 19, 2009 2:02 PM EDT up reply actions  

Complication is the most valid point on my design

This is due to the detail provided to make it a solid design.

Would you really want to drive on a bridge designed as well as the BCS? Those blueprints better be more complicated than my designs presented here.

Can you think of a better place to vet an idea on a heated topic than on a blog? I expect, and thrive on, critical opinions. They will only make my rhetoric stronger : )

And lets not forget the traditional shafting Kansas State got each of the first 3 years of the BCS era.

BCS Evolution -- Punctuating the Equilibrium - twitter

by utesfan100 on Oct 19, 2009 3:34 PM EDT up reply actions  

In that case, I will continue to criticize you as harshly as possible and together we will SLAY the BCS and replace it with a system of virtue, honor, and common sense.

by Rich Town on Oct 19, 2009 10:03 PM EDT up reply actions  

Improving The BCS

Hey Utes Fan, a pat on the back and good job of being so complete in your proposal. Most CF fans agree the system needs tweeking. In simple terms, this is my idea to get closer to an undisputable NC Team. ………… One thing to keep in mind is that every team wants to get to the best Bowl Game they possibly can, irregardless of conference affilliation, and the BCS Bowl selection committee’s should be assisting the top ranked teams by selecting THEM, to the BCS Bowls. Also, I love the Bowl season. It gives fans a chance to see teams they may have missed but heard about during the season, only because they were following thier favored teams ect. 1. Lets see if we can start the season as early as possible. ( There’s a proposal out there to the NCCA I believe to do just that). 2.. Teams that want to be considered among the elite MUST schedule QUALITY out of conference games sometime during the year, especially teams from a 12 team conference, even at the expence of not playing all conference foes, which doesn’t always happen now anyway. 3.. Move rivalry week games up in the schedule , weeks before the typical end of the season, as some teams have already done. 4.. Limit bye weeks to 1 per team. 5.. Eliminate the MEANINGLESS conference championship games, since the teams kinda know each other like all conferences do, plus, they may have already played each other during the year !! ( Better to have them play another quality opponent this week to see how they do against an unfamiliar team ) ….. Do you catch my drift by now, Fans …………… By doing these simple things we have a season that is more Jam Packed with big games than EVER, with lots of out-of conference quality games which should weed out the slackers,leaving, by the end of November, a real good idea of which teams are really the best. 6.. Now we come to the traditional last week of the season, the 1st. week of December, but instead of rivalry week, we have a mini PLAYOFF, based on the( BCS STANDINGS.) Since its the end of the season,and these teams are going to major Bowls, we could spread these games out from Saturday ( the lower end teams) of the top 12 or 14, into prime time games in the weeknights following. ( the bosses could figure out where these games could be played , but an earliier post I saw somewhere suggested at the higher ranked teams site) Hey, a teams supporters were going to go somewhere anyway. 7.. Now that this mini playoff has taken place, the BCS standings come out, and the BCS Bowls ( MUST ) pick from the top 8 teams !! (Wake up and smell the roses Bowl Committee’s ) Believe me , have gunners, will travel, get it !! 8. Play all major Bowl games by Janurary 1st, like in the past, ( lessor bowl games can still be played after the new year ) 9. This is VERY IMPORTANT !! Now, BCS votes again, after the major Bowl Games ( DUH ) , and the top 2 teams play at the pre-disclosed location, maybe a couple of days later than the N.C. is played now to give the 2 honered teams a chance to prepare. In conclusion, EVERYONE WINS. The fans get a season Jam Packed with good games every week !! The networks that provide coverage get increased viewership. And there’s a much better indication of who is really the best team !! My thanks to you for reading my idea , and I hope it can be improved upon, as I know that we’re all in this together.

by corkster on Oct 18, 2009 11:21 PM EDT reply actions  

Paragraph breaks are nice ; )

I certainly agree with your enjoyment of the bowls, desire to see New Year’s Day be restored to a celebration of elite college football and desire to see more competitive games during the regular season.

I intentionally left the regular season alone in my original designs. The regular season is too big of an establishment to make it worth attempting to move. To get something by 2014 it is better to go around this obstacle than try to improve it.

I did add an idea to use the BCS infrastructure to facilitate organization of early season neutral site exhibition games to emphasis my vision of the BCS taking a stronger role as an accreditation board like institution for college football. Last December I was taken aback by the irony that my research and designs let me, a Utah fan, to actually propose that the BCS needs to be stronger than it is.

The conference design is intended to keep the game regional to reduce travel costs of the teams. A conference championship is a natural byproduct of conference formation.

I am not sure two round of polling would be feasible given the time constraints. As it is the bowls have three weeks to prepare once the games are assigned. With only one week this is becomes problematic.

Thank you for the interesting ideas!

BCS Evolution -- Punctuating the Equilibrium - twitter

by utesfan100 on Oct 19, 2009 12:38 AM EDT up reply actions  

The flexible scheduling would never fly. You have to book fields for these games (unless you do them at home sites – which you might have to do anyway due to logistical issues; fans aren’t going to travel three times on short notice) well in advance, and if you end up not using them because there are only 5 teams instead of 8, you’re out a big chunk of cash. I do understand the rationale of trying to avoid hair-splitting decisions, but it’s just not feasible and there’s a reasonable enough defense against snub arguments in a reasonably-sized playoff: if you have to argue whether you’re #7, #8, or #9, you’re pretty clearly not #1.

by SpartanDan on Oct 19, 2009 12:26 AM EDT reply actions  

This is tomorrows topic...

Are you reading ahead? You bring up all the details I wrestled with to make it feasible.

It is true that making a large enough field makes the controversy at the cutoff insignificant because the teams near the cutoff don’t make it to the final rounds. If teams near the cutoff start making it to the final rounds pressure builds to expand the tournament.

With an 8 team format it is not unlikely that lower seed teams will get a win, maybe two. You would really need a 32 or 64 team tournament to make the cutoff controversy insignificant. Only Texas Tech HC Mike Leech is in favor of that drastic of a change.

Besides, I have crafted a feasible system that can handle from 2-8 teams in the current bowl time frames.

BCS Evolution -- Punctuating the Equilibrium - twitter

by utesfan100 on Oct 19, 2009 12:47 AM EDT up reply actions  

It seems like you would have to set the number of teams beforehand, include the teams that make the cut through use of your system, then fill in the rest with the in order of what ranking they are.

I just think a fluctuating number of teams would be TOO unpredictable to plan for. AND Dan may have already made that point but I said it anyway.

by Rich Town on Oct 19, 2009 10:06 PM EDT up reply actions  

My answer
is here

: )

And you thought my selection criteria was complicated : )

A sample using this weeks data is now available here. Examples are much more clear than the formal procedure.

BCS Evolution -- Punctuating the Equilibrium - twitter

by utesfan100 on Oct 19, 2009 11:58 PM EDT up reply actions  

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