Just how many national titles might USC have won under the proposed system? Before having to forfeit them all.
Land-Grant Holy Land (a very good Ohio State blog you must definitely check out) has a nice piece projecting all of the four team playoff model games since 1998 using the new proposed plan. The results offers advocates and detractors ample arguments for their perspectives with historical quarterfinal match-ups ranging from sacrificial lamb offerings to epic contests that would have changed multiple national title outcomes.
Let's dig into some match-ups h/t to Land-Grant Holy Land for the chart
|1998||Tennessee (#1)||Texas A&M (#6)||Sugar Bowl, New Orleans||Florida State (#2)||UCLA (#5)||Orange Bowl, Miami|
|1999||Florida State (#1)||Alabama (#4)||Orange Bowl, Miami||Virginia Tech (#2)||Nebraska (#3)||Orange Bowl, Miami|
|2000||Oklahoma (#1)||Washington (#4)||Fiesta Bowl, Tempe||Florida State (#2)||Miami (FL) (#3)||Orange Bowl, Miami|
|2001||Miami (FL) #1||Oregon (#4)||Orange Bowl, Miami||Colorado (#3)||Nebraska (#2)||Fiesta Bowl, Tempe|
|2002||Miami (FL) (#1)||Washington State (#6)||Orange Bowl, Miami||Ohio State (#2)||Georgia (#3)||Rose Bowl, Pasadena|
|2003||Oklahoma (#1)||Michigan (#4)||Fiesta Bowl, Tempe||LSU (#2)||USC (#3)||Sugar Bowl, New Orleans|
|2004||USC (#1)||Utah (#6)||Rose Bowl, Pasadena||Oklahoma (#2)||Auburn (#3)||Fiesta Bowl, Tempe|
|2005||USC (#1)||Notre Dame (#6)||Rose Bowl, Pasadena||Texas (#2)||Penn State (#3)||Fiesta Bowl, Tempe|
|2006||Ohio State (#1)||Louisville (#6)||Rose Bowl, Pasadena||Florida (#2)||USC (#5)||Sugar Bowl, New Orleans|
|2007||Ohio State (#1)||Oklahoma (#4)||Rose Bowl, Pasadena||LSU (#2)||Virginia Tech (#3)||Sugar Bowl, New Orleans|
|2008||Oklahoma (#1)||Utah (#6)||Fiesta Bowl, Glendale||Florida (#2)||USC (#5)||Sugar Bowl, New Orleans|
|2009||Alabama (#1)||TCU (#4)||Sugar Bowl, New Orleans||Texas (#2)||Cincinnati (#3)||Fiesta Bowl, Glendale|
|2010||Auburn (#1)||Wisconsin (#5)||Sugar Bowl, New Orleans||Oregon (#2)||TCU (#3)||Rose Bowl, Pasadena|
|2011||LSU (#1)||Oregon (#5)||Sugar Bowl, New Orleans||Oklahoma State (#3)||Alabama (#2)|
With one caveat:
Remember, only conference champions ranked in the top 6 are eligible and if four such teams cannot be found, the next highest at-large is slotted in where there's a vacancy.
1998 - A weak year and the Aggies would have had a shot to win it all taking on Tennessee and a relatively feeble Florida St-UCLA winner. Those four teams would have been a legitimate crap shoot though it's hard to imagine the Aggie offense making a dent on the Vols. Sirr Parker disagrees.
2001 - Colorado and Nebraska would face off again right after Colorado stomped them 62-36 (and then upset Texas in the Big 12 title game. You just had recall flashes didn't you? Make yourself throw up. It helps). That immediate rematch has a very NFL feel and it just kind of sucks. 2001 Miami would have whipsawed Oregon and whoever won CU-NU anyway.
2003 - LSU vs USC in one quarterfinal. Oh hell yes. This might be the best argument for the playoff. After the smoke cleared from that bowl season, it was apparent that the Trojans and Tigers were the best teams in the country despite OU's regular season hype. Winner stomps Oklahoma - had they gotten by Michigan. A "true" MNC crowned.
2004 - See 2003. A nice recommendation for the playoff. Urban Meyer's impressive and undefeated Utah (still the best mid-major team I'd ever seen) has a chance to show their mettle against USC and OU takes on undefeated Auburn, who never had a chance to contest USC's #1 popularity poll ranking.
2005 - USC rematches the Bush Push with the Irish away from South Bend while Texas takes on Penn State at a neutral site or in Austin. The Texas-USC collision course continues.
2006 - An unattractive Louisville sneaks into the playoff to contest Ohio St while the true national title game probably goes down between USC-Florida. Very similar feel to 2003/2004 with a chance at a "true" champion.
2009 - The Horned Frogs get a crack at Alabama while Texas eviscerates the Bearkats. TCU gets another shot in 2010
2011 - Disrespected Oklahoma State gets a shot to make their case. And LSU probably craps the bed in the quarterfinal.
- Boise St, the team most often advanced as the mid-major who deserves a crack, never gets one. But Utah, TCU, Cincy, Louisville and others all get a shot at the prize. Some of those teams don't belong and it's also irritating to see a weak Virginia Tech teams soaking up spots. With the exception of 2004 Utah, I'm not really sure any of those teams could make a dent. So the debate simply expands from the two most worthy to debates as to whether we have the four most worthy. Is anything ultimately solved?
- Would voters be influenced knowing that the top 4 have a shot at the MNC, instead of the top 2? Using historical BCS data assumes that voters wouldn't influence outcomes based on this new knowledge - and I'm pretty sure they would. Maybe little guys are squeezed out for traditional powers - particularly after some quarterfinal slaughters happen with Big East champs in years previous, or, alternatively, maybe Boise makes it in at the height of Boise mania. What do you think?
- In weak years of college football (1998, 1999, 2006) where there are no dominant teams, the playoffs hold real drama and uncertainty. The problem is that it's precisely those years which argue for a 8-16 team field where a true Cinderella (on the football scale, the game dynamics won't allow a true NCAA basketball glass slipper) might win it all
- In years like 2003, 2004, 2006, it's very difficult not to argue for a playoff. Media hype and lazy assumption crowns early champions, the season plays out, we realize we had it all wrong, all along, and we don't know who the toughest kid is on the block
- Just as many quarterfinal games that would be epic and amazing would also be one-sided slaughters