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FIX IT

Once again, voters’ opinions have thrown the national championship race into turmoil. How it’s possible that Oklahoma is ranked ahead of Texas, who beat them, is beyond me. And again, as I wrote last week, no way does USC deserve to be ranked ahead of Texas Tech.

The NCAA has always been a duplicitous beast. It hammers the teams that it supposes have transgressed some of its hallowed rules, but then it lays off the teams and conferences, letting them formulate their own methods for determining their champions. The SEC proved that a championship game is the right way to go, and the Big 12 followed suit. Now it’s time for the Big 10 and the PAC 10 to get on board. The recent trend of voters’ rewarding conferences who do have a championship game is promising, as seen last year when 2-loss LSU played for the BCS title in lieu of 2-loss USC. At least they got that one right.

But this year the polls are on their backs, and the official is counting. Something must be done to fix the system. I’ve already given one idea that could work without instituting a playoff, which the powers-that-be are so adamantly opposed to. But a few things must happen without question: The Big 10 and PAC 10 must crown their champions in a championship game. The Big 10 will have to either add a team or cut a team for that to happen, but if Notre Dame would get off their high horse and join, both the Big 10 and ND would be better off for it. All the PAC 10 really has to do is schedule the game and play it, since they’ve already got an even number of teams, although it would be nice if they’d add a couple more teams to the pot.

The Big 10 and PAC 10 may already have plans to that effect. Surely they see that their lack of a conference championship is costing them consideration at season’s end. Everyone said the SEC would put themselves out of contention when they started up their championship game, but in fact, just the opposite has happened. The SEC is getting more consideration because of the championship game. Several other conferences have followed suit. At this point, to refrain is nothing more than a display of stubbornness.

There are ways to fix the system, NCAA. We all know you hate the idea of a playoff, despite the wishes of the fans of the sport, but there are other ways than the BCS. Use your imagination and come up with one, or just ask me, I’ve got a guaranteed formula for success. I call it the Super Conference.

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USC Leapfrogs Texas Tech?

AP voters, you’ve really screwed up this time. With USC leapfrogging Tech in the most recent polls, the BCS picture–still not reliable due to its dependence on voters’ opinions–is once again screwed up.

Let’s look at the losses these two teams have suffered. Both have one loss; USC’s to Oregon State, a 7-3 team with a conference loss to weakling Stanford, and TT’s to Oklahoma, another one-loss team whose only loss came at the hands of Texas, current one-loss #2 in the BCS. Aside from that, TT plays in a much stronger conference–and don’t give me that crap about how USC’s defense is the best in the nation, if TT was playing in the lackluster PAC-10 their defense would look stellar too.

How is it possible that two teams with one loss each can be ranked so wrong? There’s no way SC deserves to be ranked ahead of TT, other than the love affair current AP voters have with all-things Pete Carroll. Give us a break, AP, vote for body of work instead of who you’d like to see winning. At worst, TT shouldn’t have dropped below fifth.

The Big 12–of which I am not counted as a fan, by the way–should have some combination of teams ranked currently at numbers 2, 3, and 4. Period. How you rank them is up in the air, but there’s no question in my mind that Texas’s, Oklahoma’s and Texas Tech’s one loss each is a much better loss than either Florida (who lost to a pretty good team in Mississippi and should be ranked #5) and USC, who lost to Oregon State and should be ranked no higher than #6.

What’s really frustrating about this is that I don’t even see how there can be any question that it should be this way. So long as you’re looking at things rationally and with no bias, at this stage in the season the top ten is pretty clear cut. At least it is if you’re not an AP voter.

Here’s the current Houndstooth Top 10. There’s not much difference between this poll and the AP poll, except 1-5 and flip flopping Utah and Penn State. But at this point in the season every little spot counts big time, and USC just doesn’t deserve to be a top 5 team:

  1. Alabama
  2. Texas
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Texas Tech
  5. Florida
  6. USC
  7. Utah
  8. Penn State
  9. Boise State
  10. Georgia (I’d have no problem putting Oklahoma State in the ten spot)

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Talk radio is rife with talk of unfairness and the want of a playoff. As for the unfairness, I say bull. No other team deserved to be in the championship game than the two that were there. There might have been equals, but none more deserving. And as for the playoff: It ain’t gonna happen, get over it.

There is a sure-fire way to fix college football without a playoff though, and that is through the Super Conference concept, in which the top 25 teams each season must play a specified number of games against one another, and in which the only teams eligible for to win the national championship are those 25 teams.

Each season the bottom 5 teams in the super conference drop out to be replaced by the next top 5 ranked teams. This season Notre Dame would have dropped out. To be eligible for championship contention again they would have to play their way first back into the super conference. The super conference concept would ensure a level playing field for all teams vying for the championship, and give us the best option under the rules we have now for deciding the champion of college football.

The conferences wouldn’t have to change. The bowls wouldn’t have to change. Everything could remain the same; all you would do would rearrange the schedules so that teams would play different, better, competition.

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IF the NCAA would adopt the Super Conference format, and IF these teams all were playing an SC schedule in 2007 AND still had the same record against that competition as they do now, this is what the SC poll would look like today:

  1. Ohio State (10-0)
  2. LSU (8-1)
  3. Oregon (8-1)
  4. Oklahoma (8-1)
  5. West Virginia (8-1)
  6. Michigan (8-2)
  7. Texas (8-2)
  8. USC (7-2)
  9. Virginia Tech (7-1)
  10. Georgia (7-2)
  11. Clemson (7-2)
  12. Penn St (7-3)
  13. Auburn (7-3)
  14. Alabama (6-3)
  15. Florida (6-3)
  16. Tennessee (6-3)
  17. Arkansas (6-3)
  18. Cal (6-3)
  19. Florida St (6-3)
  20. South Carolina (6-4)  
  21. UCLA (5-4)
  22. Miami (5-4)
  23. Georgia Tech (5-4)
  24. Nebraska (4-6)
  25. Notre Dame (1-8)

Teams poised to jump into the SC next year (the top 5 of these teams will replace the bottom 5 of the SC poll next year):

  1. Arizona State
  2. Kansas
  3. Hawaii
  4. Cincinatti
  5. Boston College
  6. Missouri
  7. Connecticut
  8. South Florida
  9. Boise State
  10. Wake Forest

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Oregon vs. Arizona St
Two teams with one loss between them in a game which could be the deciding factor in who plays for the National Championship. If the Buckeyes lose this weekend and Bama beats LSU, look for the winner of this game to vault to at least number two, if not past BC into #1, and line up very nicely to play in the title game. Those are two very big ifs, but this wacky season has the best prognosticators on their heels eating crow, so who’s to say it won’t happen? You want to put the cherry on top? If FSU beats Boston College we could have Oregon or ASU at number one and Kansas at number two. The college football world will be staring slack-jawed at the reports come Sunday if that happens, my friend. Of course, all that won’t happen, will it?

Predictions:
OSU 31, Wisconsin 10
FSU 24, BC 20
Bama 24, LSU 21 (I’ll own it: I’m going with my heart here.)
Oregon 38, ASU 30
Oklahoma 44, Texas A&M 19
Kansas 26, Nebraska 6

IF my impossible set of predictions come true, then next week’s BCS should look something like this (Top 5 only):

  1. Ohio State
  2. Oregon
  3. Oklahoma
  4. West Virginia
  5. Kansas

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These are the top 25 teams of the NCAA (unaffiliated) Super Conference according to wins. Note: The teams in this poll do not adhere to the tenets of the Super Conference scheduling system which ranks teams based on schedule equality and wins alone so therefore these standings are purely speculative based on the inherent inadequacies of their current schedules. For instance, all teams in this poll would have played a few of the other teams on this poll using the SC system but in reality many of them have not.

  1. Ohio State (8-0)
  2. LSU (7-1)
  3. Oklahoma (7-1)
  4. Oregon (6-1)
  5. West Virginia (6-1)
  6. USC (6-1)
  7. Virginia Tech (6-1)
  8. South Carolina (6-2)
  9.  Michigan (6-2)
  10. Alabama (6-2)
  11. Penn St (6-2)
  12. Texas (6-2)
  13. Florida (5-2)
  14. Cal (5-2)
  15. Georgia (5-2)
  16. Clemson (5-2)
  17. UCLA (5-2)
  18. Miami (5-3)
  19. Georgia Tech (5-3)
  20. Auburn (5-3)
  21. Tennessee (4-3)
  22. Arkansas (4-3)
  23. Florida St (4-3)
  24. Nebraska (4-4)
  25. Notre Dame (1-7)

Teams poised to jump into the SC next year (the top 5 of these teams will replace the bottom 5 of the SC poll next year):

  1. Arizona State
  2. Boston College
  3. Kansas
  4. South Florida
  5. Missouri
  6. Kentucky
  7. Virginia
  8. Connecticut
  9. Rutgers
  10. Wake Forest

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Super Conference

Super Conference Primer
The idea is simple, really, and it would cure what ails college football today. No more would a Utah or a Boise State vie for an undeserved BCS game just because they went undefeated in the regular season. And, with the increased level of competition the title game would not be in question. Teams in tougher conferences would have just as much opportunity as those in weaker conferences, and vice-versa. The Super Conference concept would ensure all SC team schedules are comparably difficult and would reward superiority and dominance.

The Super Conference idea works like this:
The 25 teams which comprise the Super Conference (SC) wouldn’t abandon their own conferences, but they would be the only teams eligible for the BCS national championship. The teams must play a minimum number of SC teams annually. Some conferences have more SC teams than others, however, so: if a team’s in-conference schedule consists of mostly non-SC teams, their out-of-conference schedule must be represented by SC teams. And vice-versa: If a team’s in-conference schedule consists of mostly SC teams, their out-of-conference schedule may include non-SC teams. A team must play at least five SC teams per year. Therefore, if Alabama’s in-conference schedule includes four SC teams and four non-SC teams, then they must schedule one non-conference SC opponent to qualify for the BCS championship. If West Virginia’s in-conference schedule (seven games) includes zero SC teams then they must schedule five non-conference SC opponents to qualify.

This would only affect the BCS title. A possible positive side effect of the Super Conference System would be to discredit the AP, which is merely a popularity contest and is beyond anyone’s control other than the (sometimes incompetent) AP voters. The AP will still award its champion based on its voter’s opinions, and seeing as most (if not all) SC teams will have at least one or two losses their NC will likely be a lossless non-SC team. 

All SC teams are bowl eligible excluding only the bottom five ranked teams. All teams are ranked based on wins alone. Teams would be able to move up into the SC as well as drop out. Each year the top five rated teams of non-SC schools would move in, and the bottom five SC schools would drop out. If your team drops out this year, then their immediate goal for the following year (or years) should be to move back into the SC.

These are the 25 teams of the inaugural Houndstooth-proposed Super Conference, listed Alphabetically. The first 20 have been selected based on their acknowledged status as “traditional” powerhouses. The remaining 5 are “play-ins” and are present due to recent performance.

  1. Alabama (SEC)
  2. Arkansas (SEC)
  3. Auburn (SEC)
  4. Florida (SEC)
  5. Florida State (ACC)
  6. Georgia (SEC)
  7. Georgia Tech (ACC)
  8. LSU (SEC)
  9. Miami (ACC)
  10. Michigan (Big Ten)
  11. Nebraska (Big 12)
  12. Notre Dame (Must join a conference)
  13. Ohio State (Big Ten)
  14. Oklahoma (Big 12)
  15. Penn State (Big Ten)
  16. Tennessee (SEC)
  17. Texas (Big 12)
  18. USC (PAC-10)
  19. Virginia Tech (ACC)
  20. Cal (Pac-10)
  21. Louisville (Big East)
  22. Clemson (ACC)
  23. Oregon (Pac-10)
  24. South Carolina (SEC)
  25. West Virginia (Big East)

Conference Breakdown:
SEC = 8
ACC = 5
Big Ten = 3
Big Twelve = 3
Pac-10 = 3
Big East = 2

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