Sunday, December 02, 2007

College football playoff

Every year sportswriters uncritically dust off last year's column blasting the BCS, how it's so incredibly confusing (it uses computers!), and insisting that a playoff is the only "fair" way to decide the national champion, and that we "need" a playoff.

As I noted last year, the first, and maybe most obvious, problem with a playoff is figuring out how many teams to invite.

This year's chart is interesting. I said last year that undefeated teams from major conferences indisputably deserve to play for the national title. No such teams exist this year, so major conference champions with only one loss indisputably deserve a shot. As it happens, Ohio State is the only such team. The next group is big, because one must include so many two loss teams. I suppose Hawaii ought to be in the list, barely, because they're undefeated, even if they didn't play anybody. Kansas narrowly made the cut because they're a one loss team from a power conference, even if they missed most of the good teams in the Big 12. I left West Virginia out, but barely:

So if one is going to have a "fair" playoff this year, one needs to invite nine teams.

Of all the reasons against a playoff, I think this is the best one. How many teams? It's easy to criticize, but criticism implies there's a better solution out there. If there is, I haven't seen it.

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