The Big Lead Debates the College Football Playoffs, and Going to Eight Teams

The Big Lead Debates the College Football Playoffs, and Going to Eight Teams


The Big Lead Debates the College Football Playoffs, and Going to Eight Teams

Yesterday, Ty Duffy wrote about the college football playoff, and Louisville’s poor chances. Meanwhile, all of our Big Lead writers engaged in discussions behind the scenes, in a group chat. We hit on things from what the best system is, to arguing about the merits of the teams. The Louisville question was divisive, as was the conference champ issue. At one point, one of us said a suggestion by another was obscene.

This is our version of bar room argument, spread across 8 cities. Enjoy and pick a side.

Kyle: Alabama should just be the national champion.

Jason Lisk: Alabama should be in if they lose to Auburn and the SEC champ game, that’s how far ahead they are.

Kyle: I wish it was still a poll.

Jason Lisk: Louisville would be in my top 4, but they are gonna be blocked by Clemson. No SEC team besides Bama should be in (I guess Florida still has a case if they win out, but they won’t sweep LSU, FSU, Bama).

Stephen Douglas: Polls aren’t always accurate IIRC.

Jason Lisk: within 5%, Stephen.

Penn State’s chance of winning at Rutgers and at home against Michigan State has to be like 85% of going 2-0.

Which means that Ohio State’s chances of being in the Big 10 title game are less than 10% (since they could also lose to Michigan) and they should be #2 in the rankings released Tuesday.

Ty Duffy: It’s Alabama – Clemson – B1G – Washington and B1G gets two spots if Washington falters. Louisville may be one of four best teams. Doesn’t have an argument based on quality wins which is what committee looks at.

Jason Lisk: So Ty do you really think committee would take 2-loss Penn State over 1-loss Ohio State in your scenario of Alabama, Clemson, B1G, Washington?

Ty Duffy: I think that’s the toughest question and still needs a lot of things to happen to set that up.

But I don’t think the committee has any inherent validity so it will always take the most defensible position possible.

Jason Lisk: Ohio State then

Ty Duffy: Penn State won the B1G in that scenario and beat Ohio State head to head.

Jason Lisk: But had one more loss, and won on a tiebreaker, and is ranked lower by everyone, and Ohio State will have a Michigan win too by then, and Oklahoma, and is ranked lower by this committee, by a lot, given those known factors already.

Ty Duffy: it’s certainly the toughest call, the committee ranking has no validity week to week.

They dropped TCU from No. 3 to No. 6 final week after beating a team 55-3.

Jason Lisk: IF Ohio State is ranked 2 or 3 this week, though, I don’t see how they drop below that by beating Michigan.

I’ve just decided for the 100th time that CFB is stupid.

Ty Duffy: I also didn’t say B1G champ in that scenario. I just said B1G was getting a team in, at least one.

Jason Lisk: yes, they are. If they get two, it won’t be both Michigan and Ohio State after the loss Saturday.

This is why it should just be Top 6, all 5 conf champs, one at-large. Then, Louisville is rooting against Penn State in the title game. But the rules are known.

The best teams this year are Alabama ….. then Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State (Clemson next, but have played fairly blah for several games). And 2 are gonna miss it sounds like.

[momentary pause while we get a little work done]

Jul 25, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh addresses the media during the Big Ten football media day at the Hyatt Regency. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 25, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh addresses the media during the Big Ten football media day at the Hyatt Regency. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle: You know what other coach would have gone 10-2 with Michigan’s talent and schedule? Any coach.

If they lose to Ohio State.

Jason McIntyre: Michigan has three Top 12 wins, right?

Jim Harbaugh should tell the committee to piss off and expand to 8 or he’s going to the NFL

Kyle: I think Joel Klatt got access to this chatroom under Jason’s name.

They wont be in the top 8 when they lose to Ohio State.

Jason McIntyre: (I really do think the stars are aligning for an 8-team playoff)

Kyle: He did an amazing job losing to a 24-point underdog this weekend.

They designed a 40 yard bomb on 3rd and 8 when a first down wins the game.

Jason McIntyre: Kyle are you really NOT into the 8-team playoff?

Kyle: I hate the idea.

Four is fine, I guess.

I liked the BCS.

Jason McIntyre: What’s wrong with 8?

Wild Card teams Matter.

Kyle: No they don’t.

Jason McIntyre: Wild Card teams win Super Bowls.

Kyle: Alabama should be rewarded.

Jason Lisk: Kyle liked Nebraska getting into the title game in 2001.

Kyle: I’d actually go back to a poll system if we’re being honest.

Jason Lisk: Alabama won a title as the wildcard before the 4 team playoff.

Jason McIntyre: Alabama will be rewarded – by winning.

You want the best teams/coaches/players.

The idea Jim Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson could miss the playoff is obscene.

Kyle: Want them for what? No it’s not.

Jason McIntyre: While Washington and Penn State get in.

Kyle: College football should be a meritocracy. The idea that you think personalities somehow should play a factor is obscene!

Jason McIntyre: (I’m trying to get Kyle fired up to write about hating the idea of an 8-team playoff.)

The idea Louisville should miss the playoff despite out-gaining, out-playing Clemson on the road and losing at the 5-yard line because some kid ran out of bounds … crazy.

Kyle: Their opponents are 39-51.

Jason McIntyre: What are Washington’s?

Penn State got beat by Michigan by 83

Kyle: Right!

Jason McIntyre: That’s the problem – we can do this all day, every day, circular.

Kyle: So you’re advocating adding all these unworthy teams?

Jason Lisk: Buzzworthiness should not impact the selections, but that said, I think there are so many potential problems with how we select teams. I actually think, though it has its own problems (RPI, cough), the basketball side gets it better. A team from a conference can be seeded higher than another even though they lost in either the Conference (with imbalanced schedules) or in the conference tourney.

Jason McIntyre: It’s not unworthy teams, Kyle. Define “unworthy?” Losing 1-2 games makes you unworthy? You sound like a guy who likes fraternities – we’ll be exclusive and we’ll decide who gets in.

Kyle: What about the 9th best team? The 10th? Why exclude them?

Jason McIntyre: Who is the 9th best team? Let’s see your Top 8 and go from there. How many losses? SOS?

Kyle: Why is it okay to exclude the 9th team but not the 5th?

Jason McIntyre: Let’s go with my working 8, so you can put faces and resumes to numbers.

1 Alabama (SEC)
8 Michigan (at-large)

4 Washington (P12)
5 Louisville (at-large)

3 Clemson (ACC)
6 Penn State (B10)

2 Ohio State (at-large)
7 Oklahoma (B12)

Kyle: Any 8-team playoff better include home field advantage.

Jason McIntyre: The 5th team is Louisville. 1 loss, to a playoff team, by 6, on the road. Ville outplayed Clemson if you watch it again or look at stats. 1 loss.

Yes to that home field Q.

Jason Lisk: It strikes me as funny that the one sport where teams don’t play each other, and where schedules are vastly different, and where it makes sense, goes the other way. We know who the top 5 or 6 NFL teams are. We know who the best 4-5 NBA teams are. We make judgments about at most 2-3 games in college, and look for tenuous connections.

Penn State over Ohio State

Jason McIntyre: In a 4-team playoff, PENN STATE could get in ahead of LOUISVILLE. That makes zero sense

Jason Lisk: I would take Louisville.

Jason McIntyre: WISCONSIN getting in ahead of LOUISVILLE is less insane, but still insane.

Jason Lisk: They lost by a final play at the team in the title game, on the road, a year ago. Only blemish.

Jason McIntyre: Other, not-talked about issue: SEC and P12 way, way down this year. It’s really all about the B10 and ACC.

Michael Shamburger: 4 team playoff.

Bama is in even if they lose to Auburn.
Clemson likely in.

If Michigan beats Ohio State and gives them 2 losses, and then Michigan loses to Wisconsin in B1G Championship giving them 2 losses, a 2 loss Wisconsin gets in

If Oklahoma beats West Virginia and gives them 2 losses and Washington State beats Washington and gives them 2 losses

1 loss Louisville with Heisman favorite gets in ahead of 2 loss Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Washington, Washington State, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

Jason McIntyre: Mike – so you’re saying a 1-loss non-conf champ Lousiville gets in ahead of 2-loss conf champs Washington & Wisconsin?

Michael Shamburger: No, Wisconsin is in because they would have beaten Michigan in B1G champ.

Jason McIntyre: I agree – all losses are not created equal.

Jason Lisk: Big Ten will have a team. It’s a matter of the identity.

Michael Shamburger: If Washington State beats Washington, they have to win PAC 12 to be considered. 2 loss Washington won’t go.

Jason McIntyre: Good thing I’m not on the committee. I know it’s a long season, but Washington State lost to EASTERN WASHINGTON and Boise

Early, I know.

Michael Shamburger: 2 loss Washington State won’t have enough pub.

Wisconsin wins B1G with 2 losses, finishing ahead of 2 loss Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State in that scenario.

Jason Lisk: I am going on record that I dislike the “must be a conference champ” rule in a situation where (a) schedules aren’t identical and (b) we don’t take every conf champ from major conference, and compare across them anyway.

Michael Shamburger: Louisville hasn’t beaten anyone, but their loss was to Clemson and they have the overwhelming Heisman favorite.

So, if you end up with:


2 Loss B1G winner Wisconsin (2 loss Michigan, 2 loss Ohio State, 2 loss Penn State)

PAC 12 winner 2 Loss Washington State (2 loss Washington, 2 loss Colorado)

2 Loss Oklahoma and 2 Loss West Virginia

1 Loss Louisville with Heisman favorite should be in as 4th team

Bama, Clemson, Wisconsin, Louisville

Jason Lisk Louisville beat FSU by 43. Had they beaten them by 2, where would Florida State be ranked? FSU will beat Florida IMO and be 9-3.

Michael Shamburger: Washington goes if they beat Wazzu and win PAC 12 Champ, if they don’t…

West Virginia goes if they beat OU and win the Big 12 (stupid yes, but 1 loss conference champion).

Jason Lisk: So basically, Louisville didn’t happen to schedule Michigan, Ohio State, or Wisconsin or Bama non-conference. They will be 11-1? What would a national contender’s record be against that same schedule? 11-1

Michael Shamburger: Lisk, that’s the conf champ issue in a nutshell. schedules aren’t equal, and not all conf champs get in. so why stick to it?

They won’t. Ohio State is the one outlier.

Jason McIntyre: Shamburger, so you’re taking a Wisconsin team that split with Michigan?

Oct 15, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer conducts a press conference following the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Ohio State won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 15, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer conducts a press conference following the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Ohio State won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Shamburger: If Wisconsin wins B1G champ over Michigan, 2 loss Wisconsin > 2 loss Michigan

I’m not going down the Bama-LSU road

Jason Lisk: What if they don’t have to play Michigan or Ohio State again? and lost to both?

Jason Lisk: Penn State is the most likely team to appear unless Kyle’s Spartans can beat them or Michigan wins at Ohio State

Michael Shamburger: Penn State is another outlier. If Ohio State beats Michigan, Penn State wins the East with their win over Ohio State. If they beat Wisconsin that puts 2 loss Penn State in playoff and leaves Ohio State on outside. Then have to choose 1 loss Ohio State or 1 loss Louisville.

Jason Lisk: You can’t take Penn State over Ohio State, IMO in that scenario.

Michael Shamburger: If they win the B1G you can, B1G winner gets in.

SEC, ACC, and B1G winners are in.

Jason Lisk: Ohio State-Penn State-Michigan split. Penn State got blitzed by a jillion, won close. Also lost to Pitt. While Ohio State went to Norman. Ohio State clear choice to me, which is why I hate the champ rule.

Michael Shamburger: Win the conference, play in the playoff. Seems simple.

Jason Lisk: They have 2 losses!

Michael Shamburger: LSU was in the same boat a few weeks ago.

Had LSU beat Bama and then won out, would you not say 2 loss LSU winning out deserved to go?

1 loss bama outside?

Jason Lisk: Ohio State has 1!

Ohio State has played the tougher schedule.

Kyle: Here’s the thing with college football. We’ve tied ourselves in knots trying to improve it. Just look at the argument you guys are having right now, how deep in the weeds it’s gotten. The BCS wasn’t this terrible thing. Look, Alabama is the best team in the country. There’s no denying that.  There’s a very good chance a consensus No. 2 team emerges either as Clemson, Ohio State or Michigan

Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (54) during the third quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (54) during the third quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

In that scenario, Alabama would have done its part to make the title game and the other teams would have put themselves in a position where they need help from the committee or the formula or whatever. It’s not dissimilar to what we’re doing now with the 4-team playoff.

Jason Lisk: We would be tying ourselves in knots with me insisting Ohio State is #2 in the BCS.

Michael Shamburger: Exactly!

Kyle: My point is that expanding the field only expands the gray areas and subjectivity. Four teams is fine.

Michael Shamburger: But the conference champ won their way into the playoff.

Jason Lisk: But then again, there was no “presumption of champ” in the BCS, as it was just a formula plus polls.

Michael Shamburger: Even if they lost to the only team that has 1 loss.

Jason Lisk: and polls, which have already accounted for Penn State beating Ohio State, still have Ohio State way ahead because of the other things I said above.

Michael Shamburger: You also have to look at the conference, Penn State SoS is 29th, Ohio State 31, Michigan 49 according to Sagarin.

Jason Lisk: That’s because Penn State is pulling the other two down because Sagarin uses margin of victory, while they are boosting it up.

Michael Shamburger: But that is part of the game.

Jason Lisk: If Michigan only beat Penn State by 7 Penn State would be lower.

Kyle: I’ve always thought the goal was to find a team worthy of being a national champion. There are many ways to do that. There was once a time things were voted on by pollsters. Right now they’d name Alabama national champs and there would be no argument.

Jason Lisk: This year, yes.

Michael Shamburger: Say Wisconsin wins out, and Bama finishes with 1 loss, does that mean Wisconsin better? Pollsters may not think so.

Even if they won head-to-head. So the easiest way to determine who gets into the playoff is by winning the conference.

Jason Lisk: No.

Which is why I say you take 6 or 8

Michael Shamburger: 6 with 2 bye weeks?

Jason Lisk: Because then, you can take conference champs, and make judgments on the edges.

Jason McIntyre: Kyle, “There’s a very good chance a consensus No. 2 team emerges either as Clemson, Ohio State or Michigan” … how? based on what? They all have vasty different schedules, and you forgot Louisville. And that eliminates the P12 completely.

“I’ve always thought the goal was to find a team worthy of being a national champion.” yes, in a year where the SEC is vastly down, and clearly in transition, that becomes much more difficult. Hence, an 8-team playoff with the best of the best

Michael Shamburger: This year there are 8 teams that would deserve to be in.

Kyle: There’s a very good chance a consensus No. 2 emerges. Ohio State wins the Big Ten is one example.

Michigan wins the Big Ten while Clemson loses ACC title game is another.

Jason Lisk: Ohio State only wins the Big Ten if Penn State loses to Michigan State at home (and they win out). What are the chances of that, Spartan?

Michael Shamburger: But there’s no point in having 8 if there are 3-4 clear favorites.

Jason McIntyre: Why Ohio State over Louisville? Both lost on the road in close games at night. Louisville has a “better” loss than Ohio State.

Ohio State has better wins.

Jason Lisk: Ohio State will have beaten Michigan, Oklahoma, Wisconsin

Jason McIntyre: So we let them play on the field and settle it.

Michael Shamburger: Ohio State would have win over Michigan, OU, Wisconsin. Louisville would have win over FSU, loss to Clemson.

Kyle: At Oklahoma, at Wisconsin, Michigan and then again over Wisconsin. Lousiville beat Florida State. There would be no reasonable argument for LVille over Michigan.

Michael Shamburger: If they lose to Ohio State there is.
Jason Lisk: Ohio State is the team that most resembles who the old BCS would have taken at #2, as of now.

Ty Duffy: I was out walking my dogs. This feels like jumping into a soup of hypotheticals. Under BCS – Bama would be No. 1. Ohio State would be No. 2. The only team with a chance to catch would be Michigan by beating Ohio State.

And winning out, barring a title game upset.

Jason McIntyre: Louisville has wins over FSU, Houston. So they’d be penalized by their schedule.

Jason Lisk: I agree that’s how it would be. The conference champ thing is the new emphasis factor that makes it a mess.

Michael Shamburger: But it’s not really a mess because you win the conference, you play in championship game

Ty Duffy: The BCS was basically the polls. Have to consider it like that, not with the new committee critieria.

Jason McIntyre: Louisville has the ‘best loss’ in the nation. Otherwise, have destroyed the competition. Have the best player in the nation, the Heisman winner.

Ty Duffy: Haven’t beaten anyone.

Jason McIntyre: At some point, the committee will ask, ‘who do the fans want to watch? Houston this week, and FSU.

Ty Duffy: Besides FSU…who could be 8-4.

Jason McIntyre: Or FSU could be 9-3.

Michael Shamburger: But if you end up with 2 loss B1G teams in OSU and Michigan, Louisville goes.

Ty Duffy: Houston isn’t in the Top 25

Jason McIntyre: The back and forth, round and round is what makes this so frustrating. just get 8 and there are no debates. some 3-loss team that is 9th doesn’t have an argument.

Ty Duffy: Definitely won’t be if they lose to Louisville.

Jason McIntyre: Ty, when has “top 25” mattered? We agree polls are dumb and irrelevant and antiquated.

Jason Lisk: If there were no debates, there would be no pageviews.

Michael Shamburger: But then there is a debate for 6-7-8 as non conference winners.

Ty Duffy: It matters when I can say Louisville has 1 or 0 Top 25 wins.

Jason McIntyre: 5 conf champs. 3 at-large. Boom!

Michael Shamburger: 3 at-large brings us right back here.

then we’re discussing whether 2 loss Michigan should go over 2 loss Ohio State or 2 loss Washington.

Jason McIntyre: But Ty even you’ve written Top 25 should be abolished, pollsters are lazy, favors teams with legacies, etc.

Kyle: What is the magical difference between the No. 4 vs No. 5 team and No. 8 vs. No. 9 that eliminates debates?

Jason McIntyre: 4-5 are teams usually with 0-1-2 losses. 8-9 is usually 2-3 loss teams. it’s like in the NCAA tournament – debates aren’t that heated about the 64th vs 65th team.

Jason Lisk: The debates become less worthy, the complaints less noteworthy. No one other than Vitale cares about complaining for a team that went 5-10 against other good teams.

Ty Duffy: If we’re figuring out a four-team playoff, the only thing that matters are the committee arguments they will make and their vested interests. Not what is right in an ideal college football world.

Jason McIntyre: Shamburger, in an 8-team, basically all of them, Michigan, OSU are in (with B10 winner)

All 3 at large from B10? Nobody from SEC or P12.

Maybe Western Michigan?

Michael Shamburger: Disagree

Washington, Louisville, West Virginia, Oklahoma all would have legit gripes.

Ty Duffy: They are going to be STRONGLY inclined to take a conference champion. Their basic schedule metric since this was instituted is quality wins. Louisville won’t have one.

By Top 25 or whatever you want to measure it. They aren’t leapfrogging a conference champ by beating Jimbo Fisher’s worst FSU team and a Houston team that fell down a crevasse with injuries.

Jason Lisk: I am not disagreeing about what will happen, but what should, when it comes to Louisville. The ’99 Rams would have missed out because the NFC West was weak, they didn’t have the quality wins, if we followed the college tact.

Would this be considered Fisher’s worst team without the Louisville beatdown? They lost two others by combined 4 points, including to a team we assume in

Ty Duffy: Best wins count more than best losses.

Jason McIntyre: Why do best wins count more than ‘best’ L?

Michael Shamburger: Ty, but if your team (Michigan) beats Ohio State, and then loses B1G champ…Louisville?

Jason Lisk: Ty, predictively, the latter is more important across all sports, but that is putting the discussion too far. But pointing out that I don’t accept that argument.

Ty Duffy: Because that’s how we have seen it play out under the playoff system. The committee has emphasized schedule strength and conference champions. Louisville is not going to have a case, on either front.

Jason Lisk: I agree (Louisville is going to be the odd man out by recent precedent), I am philosophically disagreeing with it.

Ty Duffy: If Michigan beats OSU and loses the title, Wisconsin will get in ahead of Louisville.

Not even a debate.

Beat LSU. Avenged a narrow loss against Michigan. Took OSU to overtime.

Michael Shamburger: 1 loss Louisville with Heisman favorite looks better than 2 loss Ohio State and 2 loss Michigan even if they haven’t beaten anyone.
Jason Lisk: Is the debate who is the better team?

Ty Duffy: The debate is what decision can a committee, whose decision making process has little inherent validity, make not who would be the best team.

Michael Shamburger: Which is why I suggest 1 loss and Heisman winner over 2 loss.

Jason Lisk: I would take Louisville in that scenario.

Michael Shamburger: But in that scenario, Louisville still needs Washington to lose again…I think they will.

Ty Duffy: If Clemson wins out, Louisville needs Washington to lose, the B1G to only have one contender, and I think West Virginia to have two losses.

Michael Shamburger: Kind of said that

1 loss Ohio State who lost to conference champ Penn State would go first over everyone else.

Jason Lisk: Which brings us back to where we started– Best system? BCS, current, or 8 teams? We’ve debated specific teams. Goal is to determine deserving champion. We know where Kyle stands. Back to the polls.

I lived in that, grew up loving January 1st bowls and the chaos, but would take the current any day, and think fairness dictates 6, but no more than 8

(there are almost always at least 6 with 1-loss, or a super tough schedule and 2-losses to go with great wins)

Michael Shamburger: If Ohio State, Washington, or West Virginia finish with 1 loss, they would likely go first as conference champs.

Jason Lisk: So do you want 4, or more, Shamburger?

Kyle: The four-team playoff has been great and added more excitement. The BCS was also a fine way to determine a national title game. The polls also often got it right. My parting shot is that an 8-team playoff is not needed to determine a worthy national champion.

Michael Shamburger: If you bring in 6 there’s a balance of question or not it is fair to make one college athlete play an extra game while one team sits out.

Ty Duffy: I favor an 8-team system with the first round being played at home stadiums. Decide as much as possible on the field. As fun as these hypotheticals are, I’d rather watch college football.

Michael Shamburger: 8. No bye weeks or first round bye. Conference champion goes unless they have 3 losses. (See LSU beating UF and UF beating Bama)

If they are 3 loss conference champ, they take at-large and best team in conference goes. Otherwise, 2 loss conference champ and then next 3 best teams.

Ty Duffy: Should add I would five auto-bids for P5 conference champs, 3 at large teams. 4 best conference champs get home field in 1st round

Michael Shamburger: Yes, unless P5 champ has 3 losses.

I would make them an at-large with best record in conference as auto, that way the better team seeds higher.

Jason Lisk: I like 6, give the top two a bye so being there gives an advantage. I’m for an 8 team playoff. I oppose more. There are 5 major conferences. I would put minimum standards to get in as conf champ (Top 15 in polls?), which allows a different conference champ to get in as well (Western Michigan?), rest are at-large and must go on road.

Jason McIntyre: I think we’ve got 3 guys on the side of 8 team, Kyle is the lone ranger. We can convince him!

Michael Shamburger: I like 4, but if expanding, has to be to 8.

Ryan Phillips: I’m all for 8 team. Best way to do it. 5 major conference champs and 3 at larges. Easiest fix.

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