Last year on my personal blog, I seeded a 16-team playoff; I even simulated the entire thing. It was a lot of fun. I’m not going to simulate it this year, but I am going to seed it again here on LoyalCougars.
By way of explanation and to get the logistics out-of-the-way, our pretend college football playoff would be a 16-team tournament. Eleven of the 16 spots would be determined by the winners of the 11 D-I conferences; the other 5 participants would be at-large, with a maximum of three participants per conference. The 5 at-large teams and the seeding would be determined by a committee (in this case, a committee of one — me).
I am using several things to help my seeding, leaning heavily on Jeff Sagarin’s college football rankings. So, without further ado, here are you NCAA football playoff participants.
Conference Champs: Clemson (ACC); Oklahoma State (Big 12); West Virginia (Big East)*; Wisconsin (B1G); Southern Miss (C-USA); NIU (MAC); TCU (MWC); Oregon (Pac-12); LSU (SEC); Arkansas State (Sun Belt); Louisiana Tech (WAC)
* I chose West Virginia because they rank highest in Sagarin’s ranking. I have no problem with Cincinnati, but Louisville has 5 loses, so I didn’t consider them a viable alternative. In my world the BCS does not exist, so you can’t use that as a tie-breaker.
At Large: Alabama (SEC); Oklahoma (Big 12); Kansas State (Big 12); Stanford (Pac 12); Boise State (MWC)*
* The toughest decision for me was the final at-large big between Boise and Arkansas. In the end, I chose the 1-loss team. And everyone in the tournament is glad USC was not eligible. Baylor would have been in the mix too, but I already had three Big 12 teams.
1. LSU (13-0, SEC Champ)
Why: I don’t think it’s any stretch to say the Tigers have been the nation’s best team.
Flaws: From a seeding perspective, none.
2. Oklahoma State (11-1, Big 12 Champ)
Why: In the endless debate between Bama and OkState, I will give the edge to a team that won 6 games versus the top 30 than a team that won 2.
Flaws: That pesky loss against Iowa State
3. Alabama (11-1, SEC at-large)
Why: Only one loss, played LSU very tough
Flaws: Only 3 games against top 30 competition
4. Wisconsin (11-2, B1G Champ)
Why: Won a tough conference; 3-1 vs. top 30.
Flaws: Two losses, including one to a pretty lousy Ohio State team.
5. Oklahoma (9-3, Big 12 at-large)
Why: Six wins vs. top 30
Flaws: Loss against Texas Tech; finished third in the Big 12
6. Oregon (11-2, Pac 12 Champ)
Why: Won conference. Top 30 schedule. Only two losses were to No. 1 LSU and a very good USC team.
Flaws: Two losses; only four games against top 30, and lost two.
7. Stanford (11-1, Pac 12 at-large)
Why: 3-1 vs. top 30
Flaws: Only the 36th toughest schedule.
8. Kansas State (10-2, Big 12 at-large)
Why: Five wins vs. top 30. Second place finish is nation’s top conference in 2011 (according to Sagarin).
Flaws: Some close calls against mediocre competition.
9. Clemson (10-3, ACC Champ)
Why: 3 wins vs. top 30.
Flaws: 3 losses, including @ NC State.
10. Boise State (11-1, MWC at-large)
Why: Flawless season, except for loss to TCU.
Flaws: Fairly weak schedule. Didn’t win conference.
11. TCU (10-2, MWC Champ)
Why: First team to win in Boise since I believe 1897.
Flaws: Weak schedule; inexplicable loss to SMU at home.
12. Southern Miss (11-2, C-USA Champ)
Why: Big win vs. Houston; won conference.
Flaws: Losses to lousy teams like Marshall and UAB.
13. West Virginia (9-3, Big East Champ)
Why: Won a lousy Big East; that’s all they’ve got.
Flaws: 3 losses. Weak schedule.
14. Louisiana Tech (8-4, WAC Champ)
Why: Won conference.
Flaws: No wins vs. top 30.
15. NIU (10-3, MAC Champ)
Why: Won conference
Flaws: No wins vs. top 30.
16. Arkansas State (10-2, Sunbelt Champ)
Why: Won conference.
Flaws: Weaker schedule than some FCS teams.
First Round Match-Ups
My pretend playoff’s first round would be hosted by the home teams (higher-seeded team hosts for the first two rounds). Two games would happen on Friday night, with the remainder taking place on Saturday (two noon games, two 3pm games, one 7pm game, one 9 pm game). The first round happens this Friday and Saturday (Dec. 9-10). Here are the hypothetical first-round matchups. The second round would take place the following weekend (Dec. 16-17), with the top seed playing the worst remaining seed (and so forth).
Arkansas State @ LSU
NIU @ Oklahoma State
Louisiana Tech @ Alabama
West Virginia @ Wisconsin
Southern Miss @ Oklahoma
TCU @ Oregon
Boise State @ Stanford
Clemson @ Kansas State
Don’t tell me this wouldn’t be a compelling weekend of football. Yeah, the first three games are snoozers, but those teams earned that. Every other match-up is compelling.
The Final Four would happen on Jan. 2 (sites would be any football facility, not just traditional bowl sites ), with the championship game following the next week.
I like my world a lot better than the BCS mess.