College Playoffs: Picking the Top Four

Let’s pretend that the four team playoff existed today, in the year 2013. Further, let’s pretend in this bizarre universe, that yours truly was on the selection committee. If so, my process would be transparent, and it would work like this:

Step 1: Conference Champions

 My initial list would consists conference champions only. In 2013, this would narrow down the list to:

  • ACC: Florida State
  • SEC: Auburn
  • PAC 12: Stanford
  • Big 10: Michigan State
  • Big 12: Baylor
  • AAC: UCF
  • Conference USA: Rice
  • Mountain West: Fresno State
  • MAC: Bowling Green
  • Sunbelt: UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State (Tie)

Step 2: Quarter Final Round

I would treat conference championships as the quarter final round of the tournament. Teams who don’t play a conference championship would be eliminated from the list:

  • ACC: Florida State
  • SEC: Auburn
  • PAC 12: Stanford
  • Big 10: Michigan State
  • Big 12: Baylor
  • AAC: UCF
  • Conference USA: Rice
  • Mountain West: Fresno State
  • MAC: Bowling Green
  • Sunbelt: UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State (Tie)

Step 3: Pick Four

This year is easy: Florida State, Auburn, Stanford, and Michigan State are the easy choices.

Discussion

What about Baylor and the Big 12? The Big 12 needs a championship game. To me, by not having one, you are giving yourself a bye in the first round of the playoffs. I’m not going to reward that. In 2014 there will be much discussion of a “round robin” system vs a championship game. While the round robin has its merits, playing a hungry opponent on a neutral field when the stakes are highest is not one of them. Be a real conference, have a championship game.

What about independents like Notre Dame? It’s possible but unlikely. Exceptions like this are why there is a committee and not an automatic system. Notre Dame and BYU could make it to the tournament if they have been dominate enough in the regular season to earn a “bye week” in my mind. But the odds would be against them, because I am heavily biased towards conference champions who’ve earned the right to be there on the field.

What about Alabama? There are definitely years where the best team in the country, the one most likely to win, did not win their conference championship for one reason or another. When comparing objective resumes to subjective opinions, I’m going with the resume every time. That’s the way it should be. [Note: I'm an Alabama fan by the way.]

What about AQ conferences? AQs get no special treatment from me.

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One comment

  1. […] I posted the process for how the four team playoff selection process should work. Unfortunately, it […]

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