College Football Playoffs: Seeding the 16 teams

If you are one of the five people who read this blog, you probably know that I hate the BCS (I also talked about a while ago here). I think it’s a greedy cartel that is likely to either be dismantled in court or do damage to college football that could take a decade to repair (if it hasn’t already). I don’t need to rehash all my reasoning — if you don’t already agree with me, I probably can’t say anymore to convince you that the only way to go is to a playoff system.

And in that spirit, it’s time for my annual pretend college football playoff! As exciting as a real college football playoff? Of course not, but it’s the best you’re going to get until the greedy men running the BCS come to their senses.

To get some 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 had to make some tough calls on who the conference champs were, because the Big Ten and the WAC had three-way ties up top. I went with the best team from my perspective (Sagarin ranking, SOS, etc.). I realize this was very subjective, but until each conference has 12 teams and a conference title game, this is the best I can do. The conference champs must have at least 7 wins; if they don’t that conference forfeits its playoff birth.

I am using several things to help my seeding — but primarily Jeff Sagarin’s college football rankings. Certainly a committee would use more data than that, but I am a committee of one after all. So, without further ado, here are you NCAA football playoff participants.

Playoff Participants

Conference Champs: Virginia Tech (ACC); Oklahoma (Big 12); UConn (Big East); Wisconsin (Big Ten); UCF (Conf USA); Miami of Ohio (MAC); TCU (MWC); Oregon (Pac 10); Auburn (SEC); FIU (Sun Belt)*; Boise State (WAC) 

* FIU won the Sun Belt, but at 6-6, they do not qualify for the playoffs because they have to win at least seven games. I added a sixth at large to take their place.

At Large
Stanford (Pac 10)
Ohio State (Big 10)
Missouri (Big 12)
Arkansas (SEC)
Alabama (SEC)
Nebraska (Big 12)


1. Auburn (13-0, SEC champ)
Why: Champ of the SEC for heaven’s sake! 6-0 v. Sagarin Top 30.
Flaws: None

2. Oregon (12-0, Pac 10 champ)
Why: 4-0 vs. Sagarin top 30. Put up 52 points on Stanford.
Flaws: Tighter-than-should-have-been wins against Cal and Arizona State.

3. TCU (12-0, MWC champ)
Why: Wins against Utah and Oregon State. Destroyed opponents all year.
Flaws: Only one game against a top 30 opponent.

4. Stanford (11-1, Pac 10)
Why: Only loss was to No. 2 seed Oregon. 4-1 vs. top 30.
Flaws: Gave up 52 points to Oregon.

5. Wisconsin (11-1, Big 10 champ)
Why: 3-1 vs. top 30. Big win vs. Ohio State
Flaws: Weak SOS (71st). Too-tight wins against Arizona State and San Jose State.

6. Oklahoma (11-2, Big 12 champ)
Why: 3-2 vs. top 30. Out of conference win against FSU. Toughest SOS among top 20 (8th).
Flaws: Two losses. Too-close wins against Texas and Utah State.

7. Boise State (11-1, WAC champ)
Why: Out-of-conference wins over Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State.
Flaws: OT loss to rival Nevada.

8. Ohio State (11-1, Big Ten)
Why: Pounded opponents; out of conference win against Miami.
Flaws: Did not beat an elite team. Handled by Wisconsin in toughest game of the season.

9. Missouri (10-2, Big 12)
Why: 2-1 vs. top 30. Out-of-conference wins against San Diego State and MAC champ Miami (OH).
Flaws: Loss @ Texas Tech.

10. Arkansas (10-2, SEC)
Why: 4-2 vs. Top 30.
Flaws: Weak out-of-conference schedule. Two losses. Took two overtimes to beat Miss. State.

11. Alabama (9-3, SEC)
Why: Three wins vs. top 30. Out-of-conference win vs. Penn St.
Flaws: Three losses (even if there were all good teams). Fairly weak out-of-conference schedule.

12. Virginia Tech (11-2, ACC champ)
Why: Eleven straight wins. 2-1 vs. top 30.
Flaws: They lost to James Madison!

13. Nebraska (10-3,  Big 12)
Why: Two wins vs. top 30.
Flaws: Lost to Texas at home. Weak out-of-conference schedule.

14. Central Florida (10-3, Conf USA champ)
Why: Conference champs. Played one top 30 opponent tough (NC State).
Flaws: Weak schedule. Loss to Southern Miss.

15. UConn (8-4, Big East champ)
Why: Win over West Virginia.
Flaws: Weak schedule. Four losses, including one to Temple (No. 72 in Sagarin)

16. Miami of Ohio (9-4, MAC champ)
Why: Conference champ.
Flaws: Four losses. Had some good out-of-conference opponents (Florida, Missouri) but lost badly. 

Later this week: Round 1!

  1. #1 by Sriram on December 16, 2010 - 10:00 am

    Stanford gave 52 to Oregon – but that was also a pretty close game until the end.

    if you s-curve it, the regions become (using home field for the first round):

    SOUTH (New Orleans): Auburn, Ohio State, Missouri, Miami-OH
    WEST (Pasadena): Oregon, Boise State, Arkansas, Connecticut
    MIDWEST (Arlington): TCU, Oklahoma, Alabama, Central Florida
    EAST (Miami): Stanford, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Nebraska

    Easiest region: SOUTH – Auburn has a cakewalk early then two teams they cannot stop

    Hardest: EAST – Any of the four can win it. Nebraska the best #4 seed by a wide, wide margin.

  2. #2 by Adam on December 16, 2010 - 9:29 pm

    I hadn’t really thought of doing regions — I prefer just seeding them and going from there. Regions could work as well.

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