The PiRate Playoff System

2005 has proven to be the rare instance in college football where exactly two teams finished the regular season undefeated. To most observers, the Rose Bowl match between Texas and Southern California is not only the only logical bout for the national championship, it is already being considered the best post-season championship game in decades.

Maybe those two statements are true, but there is no guarantee that one or both of these teams might have stumbled playing Georgia's or Penn State's schedule, and who is to say that Georgia or Penn State might have also gone 12-0 with either Texas's or USC's schedule?

The PiRate Playoff System
 
2005 has proven to be the rare instance in college football where exactly two teams finished the regular season undefeated.   To most observers, the Rose Bowl match between Texas and Southern California is not only the only logical bout for the national championship, it is already being considered the best post-season championship game in decades.   Maybe those two statements are true, but there is no guarantee that one or both of these teams might have stumbled playing Georgia's or Penn State's schedule, and who is to say that Georgia or Penn State might have also gone 12-0 with either Texas's or USC's schedule?  
 
It doesn't work this way every year.  Auburn and Utah felt slighted last year. The Utes would have had a chance to prove themselves in a playoff, while Auburn more than likely would have sent Oklahoma packing in the semifinals.
 
Southern Cal was better than both Oklahoma and LSU in 2003.  In 2002, Southern Cal and Georgia were both better than Ohio State and Miami; a playoff would have proven that.  In 2001, Oregon was the clear-cut second best team to Miami, and they would have cleaned Nebraska's clock in a semi-final match (if the Cornhuskers would have made it that far).   In 2000, Miami and Washington were both better than the Florida State team that played Oklahoma for the title.  In 1999, Nebraska was better than Virginia Tech and would have beaten the Hokies in the semifinals and Florida State in the title game.  In 1998, Ohio State was better than Tennessee and Florida State and would have won the title in a playoff. 
 
With the number of bowl games approaching 30, most of them are meaningless except to the fans of the participants.   Are you really excited about the Southern Mississippi and Arkansas State game fast approaching?  How about Kansas and Houston, Virginia and Minnesota, or Toledo and UTEP?   What good is there for a 6-5 team that was outscored in the regular season against mediocre competition to play in a post-season bowl?  Back in 1973, Michigan went 10-0-1 and couldn't go to a bowl.   In 1969, LSU went 9-1 and didn't get an invitation (thanks to Notre Dame stealing it at the eleventh hour).
 
Neither the 6-5 team nor Michigan and LSU deserved their fates.  So, what would be better?   At the least, the old method was better for the fans than the current method.  Let's look at how the bowls might have played out under the pre-BCS days.
 
Sugar Bowl: Georgia 10-2 vs. Ohio State 9-2
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame 9-2 vs. Oregon 10-1
Rose Bowl: Southern California 12-0 vs. Penn State 10-1
Orange Bowl: Texas 12-0 vs. West Virginia 10-1
 
Three of the four bowls would have possibly had national title implications, as Oregon could have played their way into contention with a blowout of Notre Dame, while Penn State and West Virginia narrowly won.  If Texas and USC both won, then there would have been a split poll.  We know this reversion will never happen.
 
Obviously, a legitimate national championship playoff is what the public wants and what the bowls might eventually figure out they need.  Here is the PiRate Playoff System in a nutshell.
 
First, we will take the six BCS conferences and award an automatic bid to their regular season champions.   The ACC, SEC, and Big 12 can continue to crown their champ in a post-season game, while the Big 10, Pac-10, and Big East send their regular season champ (with the option of playing off a two-way tie).
 
Next, we will take the remaining five conferences plus the Independents and give an at-large invitation to any champion or top-rated Indy that finished in the top 20 of the BCS rankings.
 
Finally, we will extend as many at-large invitations to the highest remaining BCS-rated teams until 12 teams have been invited.  
 
Let's look at how that would play out this year:
 
The six BCS leagues would receive these automatic bids:
*BCS ranking in parentheses*
 
ACC—Florida State (22)
Big East—West Virginia (11)
Big 10—Penn State (3)
Big 12—Texas (2)
Pac-10—Southern California (1)
SEC—Georgia (7)
 
Now, we look at the remaining conferences and independents to see which teams qualify:
 
C-USA—Tulsa (NO)
MAC—Akron (NO)
MWC—T C U (14-YES)
Sunbelt—Arkansas State (NO)
Independent—Notre Dame (6-YES)
 
Since two of these six qualify and join the automatic six, there are four more teams to pick. 
 
We now select the four highest BCS-rated teams that have not earned an automatic bid:
 
Ohio State (4)
Oregon (5)
Miami (FL) (8)
Auburn (9)
 
So, now we have the 12 teams that will be participating in the 2005-06 NCAA National Championship—the Deluxe Dozen if you will.
 
Now, using the BCS ratings, we will seed these teams.  Numbers five through 12 will have to play in the first round, while the top four will get byes to the quarterfinals.
 
Where would these games be played?  Here's where we not only keep the bowl officials happy, we increase their payday.   For 12 teams to play for a title, it will take 11 games.  We will play these games at the top 11 bowls (those with the highest payouts).
 
In the opening round, games will be played in the Sun, Alamo, Holiday, and Peach Bowls.  In the quarterfinals, games will be played in the Cotton, Capital One, Outback, and Sugar Bowls.   The semifinal games will be played at the Fiesta and Orange Bowls, and this year's College Colossal will take place at the Rose Bowl.
 
The remaining 17 bowls will pick the 34 best teams available.  What this does is eliminate 10 of the weak teams that do not belong in bowl games in the first place.   For instance, instead of Virginia-Minnesota in the Music City Bowl, under this system, Alabama might have faced Michigan.  I dare say more tickets would have been sold.
 
Let's take a look at the pairing for the 2005-06 NCAA Deluxe Dozen, PiRate Style:
 
Opening Round
(These games would have been played December 9 & 10)
 
#5 Oregon 10-1 vs. #12 Florida State 8-4 @ Sun Bowl
#6 Notre Dame 9-2 vs. #11 TCU 10-1 @ Holiday Bowl
#7 Georgia 10-2 vs. #10 West Virginia 10-1 @ Alamo Bowl
#8 Miami 9-2 vs. #9 Auburn 9-2 @ Peach Bowl
 
Quarterfinals
(These games would be played December 16 & 17)
 
#1 Southern California vs. Peach Bowl Winner @ Cotton Bowl
#2 Texas 12-0 vs. Alamo Bowl winner @ Capital One Bowl
#3 Penn State 10-1 vs. Holiday Bowl winner @ Outback Bowl
#4 Ohio State 9-2 vs. Sun Bowl winner @ Sugar Bowl
 
Semifinals
(These games would be played January 2)
 
Cotton Bowl winner vs. Sugar Bowl winner @ Fiesta Bowl
Capital One Bowl winner vs. Outback Bowl winner @ Orange Bowl
 
College Colossal
(This game to be played January 14)
 
Fiesta Bowl winner vs. Orange Bowl winner @ Rose Bowl
 
Here's how the PiRate Ratings say this playoff would have turned out:
 
Round One
 
Sun Bowl
Oregon 28  Florida State 23
 
Holiday Bowl
Notre Dame 38  TCU 28
 
Alamo Bowl
Georgia 24  West Virginia 16
 
Peach Bowl
Auburn 24  Miami 21 ot
 
Quarterfinals
 
Cotton Bowl
Southern Cal 34  Auburn 17
 
Capital One Bowl
Texas 45  Georgia 21
 
Outback Bowl
Notre Dame 35  Penn State 31 ot
 
Sugar Bowl
Ohio State 30  Oregon 21
 
Semifinals
 
Fiesta Bowl
Southern Cal 42  Ohio State 27
 
Orange Bowl
Texas 44  Notre Dame 28
 
COLLEGE COLOSSAL
(Rose Bowl)
 
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 41  TEXAS 38
 
So the same two teams would have made it to the Rose Bowl this year as the current formula according to the Pirate ratings.  At least, these two teams would have proven they belonged here.  Most years, another team or two teams would emerge to play for the title, because they really were better than the top two-rated teams.  Ohio State would have won in 1998, Nebraska would have won in 1999, Oklahoma would have still won in 2000, but they would have defeated Washington or Miami.  Miami and Oregon would have played a memorable game in 2001.  Southern Cal and Carson Palmer would have beaten either Miami or Ohio State in 2002.  Southern Cal would have repeated by beating Oklahoma or LSU in 2003, and Southern Cal would have three-peated last year by beating Auburn.  The Trojans would be going for a four-peat this year, and that would have fueled the excitement to no end.

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