It’s getting close to that glorious time of year where I am notably absent from any and all social gatherings on Sundays, and Mama Gray asks redundant questions like “Are you really going to sit there and watch football all day?” Really Mum, is that even a question? I can’t even. Seriously.
There are some important changes to this year’s college football season. After 16 years, the seemingly erroneous and vastly confusing Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system, which used voting by 167 pollers and computers to generate rankings, has been sacked. This sees the introduction of a new, four team bracket, college football playoff system, aptly named College Football Playoff or CFP (genius!).
The College Football Playoff format means we are no longer required to have some kind of Good Will Hunting sized, mathematically blessed brain in order to keep up with the rankings which were previously determined by using computer generated figures and percentages as well as all sorts of other rules to gain points, generally all things that made little sense to me given my inclination to have little or nothing to do with anything remotely mathematical. If you want to give it a go, Wikipedia sums it up pretty well here.
The new system will instead utilise the combined brain power of ‘The Thirteen’*. ‘The Thirteen’ have been introduced as people of integrity consisting of a mixture of current athletic directors, former coaches, a former NCAA executive VP, a former sports writer, Archie Manning and former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
The appointment of Condy, the daughter of a football coach and self professed “student of the game” to ‘The Thirteen’ was obviously met with harsh criticism given that she has
a vagina never played the game herself, and therefore has “no business” involving herself since “College Football has never been how she’s made a living” (Birmingham Columnist Kevin Skarbinsky’s words – not mine) and apparently career changes are not allowed. We all know what the boys club was really thinking though. YOLO Condy.
‘The Thirteen’ will pore over numbers each round, taking into consideration such factors as strength of conference, win/loss record, points, time in possession, efficiency inside the 40 and various other computer generated figures before releasing their top 25 rankings on Tuesdays beginning the 28 October 2014, finally deciding on the final four, December 6. The Rose Bowl and The Sugar Bowl will be host to the College Football Semifinals this year, with the # 1 ranked school taking on # 4, and # 2 taking on # 3, the winners of each will play for the National Title Monday 12 January 2015 in Texas.
Whilst the rankings of ‘The Thirteen’ are all that count, The AP rankings will be available before that of ‘The Thirteen’. People of integrity or not, ‘The Thirteen’ are (assumed) human beings, and therefore subject to influence. It will be interesting to see how the rankings stack up.
One of the myriad of issues surrounding the BCS System was that of bias. In an attempt to eliminate bias from the new College Football Playoff system, ‘The Thirteen’ will not be allowed to vote for a team where: they or their immediate family members are paid by that school, they provide professional services to that school or they are a coach, administrator or student athlete at that school. Seems pretty obvious, but good job for trying guys.
Call me Negative Nancy, but all I see here is one big mess, kinda like the old mess, except now instead of blaming computers when we don’t see the results we want, we get to blame actual people! The problem is we have a season that lasts only 12 games, with teams only playing a maximum of 4 out of conference games – not enough chances for the teams from weak conferences to impress, and not enough data. Win/loss numbers will not be as important as the casual football fan may think. Schedule strength will be everything. Big football schools from strong conferences like the SEC can probably afford to lose a game and still make the Playoffs, where schools like those in the Big 10 who hope to make the Playoffs will have to get through the regular season undefeated just to have a chance.
Oh, and there is no limit as to how many teams from a single conference can make the Playoffs. Good times.
*Not an official title