They did it! Arizona State is going to the playoff!
OK, it's a mythical playoff of how college football should be handled, but I've put together a mathematically fair college football playoff for over a decade, and this is Arizona State's first year to be in the running.
In case you don't know from the things I've said on air, I hate the BCS, but I don't have a problem with the BCS formula; I just don't want it used to narrow the field from 125 to 2.
Although I'm thrilled we will have a four-team playoff next year. I've always wanted a 16-team playoff. I'm not being greedy because the new system will be so much better than the BCS. I just want to implement some of the greatness of March Madness while rewarding conference champions.
I put before you the Doug Franz College Football Playoff. The "DFCFP" makes every non-conference game vital to each conference because each game determines conference strength. Conference strength determines conference rank versus the other conferences. The DFCFP improves on the NCAA basketball tournament because teams don't get in the playoff just by winning their conference. They have to win one of the conferences ranked in the top eight (as opposed to the NCAA basketball tournament where every conference champion is in).
This playoff does something no other system does. It ranks the conferences. Instead of the bar speculation that "Team 'A' would get crushed if they played in Conference "B," the DFCFP rewards you equally for having No. 1 Florida State while you're getting equally penalized for No. 95 Virginia and No. 99 North Carolina State.
Every week the BCS rankings change, therefore changing the teams making the playoff. Once the regular season standings are complete next week, it will be up to you to pick the winners of each game and set in motion the championship challenge.
If you want an explanation for the way my formula works, check the bottom of the blog.
Here's the playoff pairings:
16) Fresno State @ 1) Florida State
15) UCF @ 2) Ohio State
14) NIU @ 3) Auburn
13) Clemson @ 4) Alabama
12) Oregon @ 5) Mizzou
11) Arizona State @ 6) Oklahoma State
10) Michigan State @ 7) Stanford
9) Baylor @ 8) South Carolina
Welcome to the playoff, ASU! After all these years, you're in the dance. The draw isn't that bad either. ASU can handle Oklahoma State's offense. I'll pick the upset here. ASU would then travel to Auburn and face the magic at Jordan-Hare.
Every week there are different teams leaving the playoff and other teams eagerly taking their place. This week it's Louisiana-Lafayette out and Fresno State that makes it. Obviously, the playoff would be attacked by critics for this since Fresno State lost and "backed in" to the playoff. The truth is Fresno did not make it as a wild card. They earned the bid by being the best team in the eighth-best conference. The problem isn't the playoff; it's the fault of the Sun Belt and Conference USA for having so many weak teams.
The old playoff haters used to say that a playoff ruins the regular season. Get real! Clemson lost. Detractors would say the playoff is a failure if Clemson still has a chance after a loss last week, but they went from hosting Michigan State to the impossible task of winning at Bryant-Denny Stadium against Alabama.
The same can be said for Alabama. All they did was lose to the fourth-best team in the country in Auburn's building, yet look at the penalty received. Instead of hosting Fresno State, 'Bama gets Clemson. I would pick Alabama to win it, but I don't think Clemson would just be happy to be there like Fresno State's kids in Tuscaloosa.
I love the match-up that brings football back to a game between men: Michigan State at Stanford. Although the Big 10 is weak, Michigan State's defense is outstanding, and to see them play another physical team would be great theater.
Speaking of Stanford, this also shows how your opponents can change everything for you. Stanford's win over Notre Dame coupled with the Clemson loss vaulted the Cardinal into the top eight -- versus their position at No. 9 last week. The difference is a home game.
By ranking every team 1-125, you get a true representation of the best conference by taking the average BCS rank of every team in the conference. This playoff system makes every college football game in the country vital, because it rewards teams and conferences alike.
The conference champions need to be rewarded; administrators do not. I don't want a system similar to men's basketball that when you make a conference, you get an automatic bid. In this system, conferences have to earn an automatic bid for their conference champion. Here's the ranking of the conferences after Week 7 of the BCS and the average BCS rank of the teams in the conference.
1) SEC: 37.21 (weaker by 0.35)
2) Pac-12: 40.08 (weaker by 0.08)
3) Big 10: 45.42 (stronger by 0.74)
4) Big 12: 51 (weaker by 0.2)
5) ACC: 51.14 (weaker by 2)
6) AAC: 71.9 (weaker by 0.2)
7) MAC: 80.62 (stronger by 2.15)
8) MWC: 84.25 (stronger by 0.58)
9) Sun Belt: 84.25 (weaker by 1.87)
10) C-USA: 85 (stronger by 1.64)
In the preseason, Bob Stoops wanted to whine how unfair it was people didn't rank the Big 12 above the SEC. He needs to worry about the ACC passing him before he tries to take on the top conference.
The magic of this playoff is how every game matters. There are only two spots left for the three conference champions of the Sun Belt, MAC and Mountain West. The Sun Belt was in seventh place last week, so Louisiana-Lafayette was in the playoff. This week, although Fresno State lost, the Mountain West as a whole improved its average BCS rank and went from ninth -- where your conference champ doesn't make the playoff -- to seventh.
Mountain West, what happened to you? Why did you re-accept Hawaii? It adds a terrible travel expense, and they rank No. 117. It wasn't worth it. Your weak decision almost cost Fresno State's chance to make the playoff because Hawaii drops the Mountain West's average. Without Hawaii, the average BCS rank of the teams in the conference improves to 73.92 and is ranked seventh, easily putting Fresno State in the playoff.
Conference USA is a sham. During every round of realignment, it raids the Sun Belt. Ever since massive conference realignment, the Sun Belt continually out-ranks C-USA.
The magic of the DFCFP is how it highlights the regular season more than any other system. Here's the process for coming up with the teams for the playoff:
1) Rank all D-1 (FBS) teams 1-125 (from Alabama to Georgia State) 2) Rank all the conferences 1-10 based on the average BCS rank of the teams in the conference. 3) Reward the first place team in the top 8 conferences with an automatic bid.
3. Ohio State
4. Oklahoma State
5. Florida State
7. Northern Illinois
8. Fresno State
4) Independents -- this means you, Notre Dame -- get no special treatment. If you're not in a conference, you need to earn a wild card bid or join a conference. 5) Select eight wild card teams based on BCS rank, excluding those already selected with an automatic bid.
3. South Carolina
5. Michigan State
6. Arizona State
6) Rank the 16 teams based on BCS rank with no regard to status as an automatic qualifier or wild-card entry. The tournament would follow a bracket format. Although re-seeding would be a better way to reward the regular season, nothing is better than filling out a basketball bracket, and I want that momentum and attention on college football.
7) First two rounds are at the home of the better seed. 8) Final Four games are played at a rotation among the Fiesta, Cotton, Sugar and Rose bowls. 9) The championship Game is hosted by the city that bid the most.
We wouldn't have 35 bowl games anymore -- sorry Pinstripe Bowl -- but some of the big ones with tradition don't have to go anywhere. If you're an Arizona fan, are you saying you wouldn't go to the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma or Texas? You'd still get the benefit of extra practices to prepare for your bowl game. Players would still get to enjoy the goodies they receive for participating. As for the fans, we get a real champion.
Feel free to ask me any questions or give me your predictions for these matchups.