Thursday, January 04, 2007

Simulated Virtual College Football Championship Playoffs 2006

Using the Bracketmaker at Bracketmaker.com we have created a Simulated College Football Championship 2006 as if the BCS had a playoff system.

Our intention in doing so is to show that such a playoff system is a viable alternative to the current BCS bowl system and that it is workable from a theoretical point of view. But is it desirable?

In our Simulated Virtual College Football Championship Playoffs 2006 the teams eligible for the 32-team playoffs are:

1) the 11 Division I-A Conference Champions
2) the top-ranked Division IA independent team
3) the 20 otherwise highest ranked BCS teams as Wildcard Teams.

This gives a playoff tournament of 32 teams.

Each game is to be played as a sponsored bowl with its own bowl name, etc.

Teams are to be seeded from 1 to 32 by their ranking in the BCS rankings.

Four brackets are to be used with the following matchups by ranking:

BRACKET ONE: 1-32, 16-17, 9-24, 8-25 (the winner of 1-32 plays the winner of 16-17, etc.)
BRACKET TWO: 4-29, 13-20, 12-21, 5-28
The winner of Bracket One (above) plays the Winner of Bracket Two (below it)
BRACKET THREE: 2-31, 15-18, 10-23, 7-26
BRACKET FOUR: 3-30, 14-19, 11-22, 6-27
The winner of Bracket Three (above) plays the Winner of Bracket Four (below it)

Conference champions who are not ranked in the top 32 teams by the BCS formula are to be seeded at the end of the ranked teams in the playoffs according to the ranking of their conference in Wolfe's conference rankings which for 2006 were as follows:

1 SEC
2 Big East
3 Pac 10
4 Big 10
5 ACC
6 Big 12
7 D-IA Indep.
8 Mtn West
9 CUSA
10 WAC
11 MAC
12 Sun Belt

Matchups are to be adjusted after the initial seedings to avoid undefeated teams being in the same bracket, if at all possible, which of course depends on the number of undefeated teams. This is the first adjustment.

The top two teams in each conference are not allowed to play in the same bracket or competing brackets (i.e. in Brackets 1 and 2 or Brackets 3 and 4) in order to avoid repeats of conference championship games prior to the national championship game.

Moreover, initial playoff games, if at all possible, are not permitted to match teams from the same conference.

Lastly, initial playoff games, if at all possible, are not permitted to match teams who already played each other in the regular season.

After initial seeding of all teams from 1 to 32 by their BCS ranking, or, if unranked, by their Wolfe conference rank - after the ranked teams,
1) the position of undefeated teams and the top two conference teams in the matchups
2) as also initial matches of teams from the same conference
3) as also initial matches of teams who already played each other in the regular season
MUST then be adjusted by exchanging matchup positions
with the seed directly below or above it,
or the next seed below or above that, etc.
until such a switch of teams in the brackets most easily fits the criteria of the conditions of bracketing previously outlined.

Here are the matchups
(and switches of matchups)
as required by the above criteria.

Bracket One
Ohio State (1) plays Troy (32).
Rutgers (16) plays Tennessee (17).
Auburn (9) plays Boston College (24).
Boise State (8) would ordinarily have to play UCLA (25) but the BCS rankings put undefeated Boise State in the same bracket as undefeated Ohio State. An exchange with Auburn (9) in the same bracket would not solve the problem. An exchange with the next-ranked team, Oklahoma (10), however, solves two problems at once. Boise State is then in the opposite brackets to Ohio State while at the same time the Big 12 Conference playoff teams, Oklahoma and Nebraska are not - again - matched in a playoff game immediately after that conference championship game. Accordingly, the positions of Boise State and Oklahoma are exchanged, with each taking over the seed position of the other team in its bracket. Since the difference between adjoining or nearly adjoining seeds is minimal, this is not seen as being unfair to any team.
Accordingly, Oklahoma (8) now plays UCLA (25) in Bracket ONE and Boise State (10) plays Nebraska (23) in Bracket THREE.

Bracket Two
LSU (4) would ordinarily have to play Georgia (29) but this is an impermissible match of two teams from the same conference in the initial playoff game. Accordingly, we have a switch to the positions LSU (5) and USC (4), so that USC (4) plays Georgia and LSU (5) plays Georgia Tech (28).
West Virginia (13) plays BYU (20).
Arkansas (12) plays Texas A&M (21).
USC (5) ordinarily would play Georgia Tech (28) but because of the above change, LSU (5) plays Georgia Tech (28).

Bracket Three
Florida (2) plays Central Michigan (31).
Virginia Tech (15) plays California (18).
Boise State (10) plays Nebraska (23).
Wisconsin (7) would ordinarily play Penn State (26) but since this matchup already occurred in the regular season, we have to do an exchange. Position 8 has already been switched (positions are not be switched more than once) so that seed position 6 is the best alternative. Louisville (now 7) thus plays Penn State (26) and Wisconsin (now 6) plays Georgia (27).

Bracket Four
Michigan (3) plays Houston (30).
Wake Forest (14) plays Texas (19).
Notre Dame (11) plays Oregon State (22).
Wisconsin (6) plays Georgia (27).

And at the end we have a true national champion together with exciting bowl games which lead up to the grand finale.

The only question is whether this alternative brings in as much money to university coffers as the current bowl game system - and that we simply do not know - although we think that money is the major argument to be raised against any change from the present bowl system.

Playoffs for Division IA football (the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision) can certainly be done as we show HERE in our "potato version", with best greetings to our friends in Idaho.

UPDATE January 6, 2007

We see that Josh Peter at Yahoo Sports has a superb quite detailed article which covers the major issues in the battle between BCS Bowls vs. Division I-A college football playoffs. Peter not only gives a short rundown of BCS controversies in past BCS years, but also throughly covers the money questions and, particularly, the politics and business behind the scenes.

Frankly, after reading that article and the arguments presented in it, we do not expect a playoff system for quite some time, simply because the present bowl system appears to be doing its money-making job.

This is a very legitimate point of view. College athletics are expensive and football revenue is a major source of income, a fact of which college presidents are quite aware - and they are the ones who make the decisions.

Hence, the main purpose of post-season games is not necessarily to determine which is the best team, but rather, to fill university athletic coffers.

Obviously, to fill those coffers, one also has to present football extravagances nationwide which are desirable to sponsors and fans. As long as the present bowl system is filling the stadiums and drawing sufficient sponsoring money, there is certainly
no compelling reason to change a system which is working well just because it may not always perfectly determine "a national champion".

Indeed, the constant controversy which the BCS engenders on the topic is probably good for fan football interest over the long haul.

But let no one say that a legitimate single elimination Division I-A football playoff system would be a difficult thing to implement. As we show in our simulated virtual college football championship playoffs for the 2006 / 2007 season, putting such a playoff system into practice would be doable, while at the same time maintaining "bowl atmosphere", conference fairness and big-time games at the end. It is just a question of money.

Simulated Virtual College Football Championship Playoffs 2006

Using the Bracketmaker at Bracketmaker.com we have created a Simulated College Football Championship 2006 as if the BCS had a playoff system.

Our intention in doing so is to show that such a playoff system is a viable alternative to the current BCS bowl system and that it is workable from a theoretical point of view. But is it desirable?

In our Simulated Virtual College Football Championship Playoffs 2006 the teams eligible for the 32-team playoffs are:

1) the 11 Division I-A Conference Champions
2) the top-ranked Division IA independent team
3) the 20 otherwise highest ranked BCS teams as Wildcard Teams.

This gives a playoff tournament of 32 teams.

Each game is to be played as a sponsored bowl with its own bowl name, etc.

Teams are to be seeded from 1 to 32 by their ranking in the BCS rankings.

Four brackets are to be used with the following matchups by ranking:

BRACKET ONE: 1-32, 16-17, 9-24, 8-25 (the winner of 1-32 plays the winner of 16-17, etc.)
BRACKET TWO: 4-29, 13-20, 12-21, 5-28
The winner of Bracket One (above) plays the Winner of Bracket Two (below it)
BRACKET THREE: 2-31, 15-18, 10-23, 7-26
BRACKET FOUR: 3-30, 14-19, 11-22, 6-27
The winner of Bracket Three (above) plays the Winner of Bracket Four (below it)

Conference champions who are not ranked in the top 32 teams by the BCS formula are to be seeded at the end of the ranked teams in the playoffs according to the ranking of their conference in Wolfe's conference rankings which for 2006 were as follows:

1 SEC
2 Big East
3 Pac 10
4 Big 10
5 ACC
6 Big 12
7 D-IA Indep.
8 Mtn West
9 CUSA
10 WAC
11 MAC
12 Sun Belt

Matchups are to be adjusted after the initial seedings to avoid undefeated teams being in the same bracket, if at all possible, which of course depends on the number of undefeated teams. This is the first adjustment.

The top two teams in each conference are not allowed to play in the same bracket or competing brackets (i.e. in Brackets 1 and 2 or Brackets 3 and 4) in order to avoid repeats of conference championship games prior to the national championship game.

Moreover, initial playoff games, if at all possible, are not permitted to match teams from the same conference.

Lastly, initial playoff games, if at all possible, are not permitted to match teams who already played each other in the regular season.

After initial seeding of all teams from 1 to 32 by their BCS ranking, or, if unranked, by their Wolfe conference rank - after the ranked teams,
1) the position of undefeated teams and the top two conference teams in the matchups
2) as also initial matches of teams from the same conference
3) as also initial matches of teams who already played each other in the regular season
MUST then be adjusted by exchanging matchup positions
with the seed directly below or above it,
or the next seed below or above that, etc.
until such a switch of teams in the brackets most easily fits the criteria of the conditions of bracketing previously outlined.

Here are the matchups
(and switches of matchups)
as required by the above criteria.

Bracket One
Ohio State (1) plays Troy (32).
Rutgers (16) plays Tennessee (17).
Auburn (9) plays Boston College (24).
Boise State (8) would ordinarily have to play UCLA (25) but the BCS rankings put undefeated Boise State in the same bracket as undefeated Ohio State. An exchange with Auburn (9) in the same bracket would not solve the problem. An exchange with the next-ranked team, Oklahoma (10), however, solves two problems at once. Boise State is then in the opposite brackets to Ohio State while at the same time the Big 12 Conference playoff teams, Oklahoma and Nebraska are not - again - matched in a playoff game immediately after that conference championship game. Accordingly, the positions of Boise State and Oklahoma are exchanged, with each taking over the seed position of the other team in its bracket. Since the difference between adjoining or nearly adjoining seeds is minimal, this is not seen as being unfair to any team.
Accordingly, Oklahoma (8) now plays UCLA (25) in Bracket ONE and Boise State (10) plays Nebraska (23) in Bracket THREE.

Bracket Two
LSU (4) would ordinarily have to play Georgia (29) but this is an impermissible match of two teams from the same conference in the initial playoff game. Accordingly, we have a switch to the positions LSU (5) and USC (4), so that USC (4) plays Georgia and LSU (5) plays Georgia Tech (28).
West Virginia (13) plays BYU (20).
Arkansas (12) plays Texas A&M (21).
USC (5) ordinarily would play Georgia Tech (28) but because of the above change, LSU (5) plays Georgia Tech (28).

Bracket Three
Florida (2) plays Central Michigan (31).
Virginia Tech (15) plays California (18).
Boise State (10) plays Nebraska (23).
Wisconsin (7) would ordinarily play Penn State (26) but since this matchup already occurred in the regular season, we have to do an exchange. Position 8 has already been switched (positions are not be switched more than once) so that seed position 6 is the best alternative. Louisville (now 7) thus plays Penn State (26) and Wisconsin (now 6) plays Georgia (27).

Bracket Four
Michigan (3) plays Houston (30).
Wake Forest (14) plays Texas (19).
Notre Dame (11) plays Oregon State (22).
Wisconsin (6) plays Georgia (27).

And at the end we have a true national champion together with exciting bowl games which lead up to the grand finale.

The only question is whether this alternative brings in as much money to university coffers as the current bowl game system - and that we simply do not know - although we think that money is the major argument to be raised against any change from the present bowl system.

Playoffs for Division IA football (the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision) can certainly be done as we show HERE in our "potato version", with best greetings to our friends in Idaho.

UPDATE January 6, 2007

We see that Josh Peter at Yahoo Sports has a superb quite detailed article which covers the major issues in the battle between BCS Bowls vs. Division I-A college football playoffs. Peter not only gives a short rundown of BCS controversies in past BCS years, but also throughly covers the money questions and, particularly, the politics and business behind the scenes.

Frankly, after reading that article and the arguments presented in it, we do not expect a playoff system for quite some time, simply because the present bowl system appears to be doing its money-making job.

This is a very legitimate point of view. College athletics are expensive and football revenue is a major source of income, a fact of which college presidents are quite aware - and they are the ones who make the decisions.

Hence, the main purpose of post-season games is not necessarily to determine which is the best team, but rather, to fill university athletic coffers.

Obviously, to fill those coffers, one also has to present football extravagances nationwide which are desirable to sponsors and fans. As long as the present bowl system is filling the stadiums and drawing sufficient sponsoring money, there is certainly
no compelling reason to change a system which is working well just because it may not always perfectly determine "a national champion".

Indeed, the constant controversy which the BCS engenders on the topic is probably good for fan football interest over the long haul.

But let no one say that a legitimate single elimination Division I-A football playoff system would be a difficult thing to implement. As we show in our simulated virtual college football championship playoffs for the 2006 / 2007 season, putting such a playoff system into practice would be doable, while at the same time maintaining "bowl atmosphere", conference fairness and big-time games at the end. It is just a question of money.

Sugar Bowl 2007 : LSU 41 Notre Dame 14

Although we predicted this win, the margin of the LSU victory over the Fighting Irish 41-14 in the Sugar Bowl was higher than expected and quite comparable to the Notre Dame losses to Ohio State and USC during the regular season. We did not think that the Tiger offense could put this many points on the board against what we knew to be a somewhat weaker Notre Dame defense that had given up 30 TDs this year as compared to LSU's 16 allowed TDs.

Notre Dame hung in the game well in the first half, trailing only 21-14 at halftime, a lead which LSU only obtained with 2 minutes left in the half. After the intermission, however, Notre Dame was unable to mount a single sustained drive while the LSU offense was marching to scores and piling up yardage, finishing the day with 577 total net yards as compared to 291 yards for the Fighting Irish.

By losing, Notre Dame also unfortunately set an NCAA Division I record for consecutive bowl game losses at nine. As written by AP national Writer Paul Newberry at Yahoo Sports:

"The school of Touchdown Jesus and Knute Rockne snapped a tie with South Carolina and West Virginia for most consecutive bowl losses in NCAA history."

Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn completed only 15 of 35 passes for 148 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions, while LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell completed 21 of 34 passes for 332 yrds, 2 TDs and 1 interception. The real difference in the last analysis was the LSU defense and a strong Tiger running attack.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is doing an excellent job as coach of the Irish, but he needs to shore up his defense if he wants his team to be a legitimate top 10 contender.

We picked the winner and beat the spread. We are now 24-11 in picking winners and 17-14-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

College Football and the West Coast Offense : Is Division III Ahead of Division I ?

How far behind the times is head coach Bill Callahan of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and his West Coast Offense? Let us tune in to Division III football and the blog, the D3 Football Daily Dose, where commenter Mainjack writes as follows about Mount Union's head coach Larry Kehres ("LK" in the posting quoted below), who has set unprecedented winning records in football coaching in Division III football:

"# mainjack Says:
The 19th of December, 2006 at 6:01 pm

I’ve been a bit surprised that no one has mentioned how LK has adapted his teams over the past 15 years to stay ahead of the curve. In the early 90’s when the west coast offense was first starting to creep into the language, LK embra[c]ed it, and blew people away with his 5 wideouts and wide open passing. Back in those days as soon as MUC got anywhere near mid-field, they were going for the bomb. As the 90’s came to a close, and defenses were figuring out the west coast schemes, LK went to a very good running back, a blocking fullback and a tight end. Chuck Moore and Dan Pugh helped remake the Mount union offense, and allowed the passing game to be as successful as it needed to be. Now you have Kmic absolutely carrying the load behind a massive offensive line, with deep threat possibility in Garcon, and two or three other receivers doing damage on short routes……when necessary.
Football is cyclical, but LK has always stayed one step ahead of where the game is going, which is why they have not had many down years (if you can call one loss a down year)."

By contrast, we have been complaining about Callahan's game management and playcalling under his West Coast Offense at Nebraska for some time now and see that others are now finally also referencing that same severe problem in using this outdated offense:

Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated writes:

"[I]t’s become painfully obvious ... that Callahan is one questionable game-manager -- and never was that more abundant than the final six minutes of Monday’s Cotton Bowl.

Upon recovering a fumble at the Auburn 42 down 17-14, the Huskers never even tried to get down the field for the go-ahead touchdown, opting for five straight running plays and eventually ending up with a 4th and 11 at the 30. Callahan went for it, Zac Taylor’s pass went incomplete. Game over."

Husker Mike's Blasphemy
calls Callahan's fake punt call against Auburn the worst call of the year.

Husker Mike
rounds up similar opinions about Callahan's coaching
including
Charles Goldberg in "Win and win ugly" at the Birmingham News quoting Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp about the Cotton Bowl victory:

""The guy is on a script for the first 15 plays...."
That's typical of the West Coast offense, Muschamp said.
"I told the kids going into the game that if we just get through these 12 to 15 plays, we'll be fine. He's going to show all of his motions, all of his shifts, and after that it's over. All these West Coast guys are programmed.""

We've been saying that all year.

Actually, scripting is a feature of the West Coast Offense where the first 15 or so plays are pre-programmed and run no matter what happens in the game:

"A Walsh innovation in his "WCO" was scripting the first 15 offensive plays of the game. Scripting had several valuable assets. First, the offensive team knew that the first 15 plays would be run as scripted no matter what, allowing them to practice the plays to perfection, minimizing mistakes and penalties. Success of the offense could establish momentum and dictate the flow of the game. Scripting added an element of surprise, since a defense who had a 3rd and long could be caught off guard by a scripted play that had no relationship to the current situation.... It was Walsh's intention to gain an early lead by passing the ball, then run the ball on a tired defense late in the game, wearing them down further and running down the clock. " [emphasis added]

Well, that is exactly what Callahan has been doing to start the game - running scripted plays, in part successfully, in part the only thing that he has done successfully - and what he has been doing so unsuccessfully after that is trying to wear down the opposing defense, trying to hold possession and run down the clock - rather than trying to score. The result has been that opposing coaches can easily prepare for Callahan's game plan since he is running it by the book - with the result that the Huskers almost never score a point in the 3rd quarter because Callahan is running the ball and eating up the clock. Madness.

In fact, that is exactly how Callahan described his game plan for the Cotton Bowl after the loss in that game:

" ... I just felt coming out of the half that we owned the time of possession, we did really well in terms of controlling the clock--preventing negative plays, with the exception of the fake punt, which is my fault."

The actual result has been that Huskers invariably lose game leads and lose games because Callahan is following this stupid strategy. We have posted previously about the idea that trying to control the clock and the time of possession in college football is a football strategy which is long outdated. That is certainly not the type of football that fans in Huskerland want to watch.

Corn Nation headlines: "Bill Callahan Costs Us the Cotton Bowl".

Kevin Sherrington at the Dallas morning news Sports Day titles his article Callahan's miscues costly for Huskers, writing:

""... the Huskers aren't quite ready for prime time.
A botched fake punt in the second quarter. Questionable play-calling late.
An inability to finish.
Title contenders make those plays when it counts. Or they don't call them in the first place.
A fake punt from your own 29 in a tie game? On the first series of the second quarter?
And on top of that, a slow-developing, labor-intensive, ball-handling nightmare of a reverse?
"My fault," Bill Callahan said."

On that point, we definitely agree with Callahan. Of the five games lost this year, two were clearly lost on the basis of crass coaching mistakes, and the other three games may have been winnable, but not by Callahan. Of what use is good recruiting if you can't successfully manage an excellent team in games against top opposition and if your playcalling consists of blind robot adherence to a system now familiar to everyone - and thus less effective.

Nebraska starts out the 2007 season playing three teams that were very strong at the close of the 2006 season (Nevada (in Lincoln), Wake Forest (away game) and USC (in Lincoln)) and we can only wish Callahan luck in getting his team ready for those opponents. Frankly, very few analysts will expect the Huskers to beat USC under their exceptional coach Pete Carroll, but if they also lose the other two games, which is possible, it will be a rough season in Huskerland.

To finish, let us go back to where we started, to the blog D3 Football Daily Dose, where the discussion there is about some of the great coaches in Division III football and the question of whether these coaches could coach in Division I football. But of course they could, even though it is unlikely by experience that their winning percentages would be quite as high as in Division III. Take a look at this wonderful page at Haverford College about the difference between Division III and Division I colleges as far as sports are concerned.

Plus, we are looking right now at the biography of Jim Tressel, the head coach of the nationally Nr. 1 ranked Ohio State State Buckeyes, and see that Tressel is a 1975 graduate of Baldwin-Wallace, a college in fact in the same OAC Division III conference as the Mount Union College Purple Raiders of Larry Kehres. Enough said.

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