Comparing the inaugural College Football Playoff field to a BCS simulation
Out with the old, in with the new.
The College Football Playoff has replaced the BCS as the FBS’s path to a national championship, and the process of selecting the title contenders has transitioned from an unforgiving formula to a subjectively chosen playoff field.
The CFP selection committee revealed its first-ever four-team playoff field Sunday afternoon, and the committee’s bracket brought about just as much controversy as the BCS rankings once did.
There are plenty of differences between the CFP’s top 4 and the top 4 in a recent BCS simulation, courtesy of BCSKnowHow.com. Take a look:
|Ranking||CFP Rankings||BCS Simulation|
|4||Ohio State||Ohio State|
The most glaring difference between the committee’s rankings and the BCS simulation is the placement of Oregon and Florida State in the 2-3 matchup. In the current playoff bracket, the difference between the 2-seed and the 3-seed is simply who is the home team in their semifinal matchup.
However, were this still the BCS era, the formula would have granted Florida State a spot in the national title game ahead of Oregon. The BCS rarely slotted an unbeaten power conference team behind any team with a loss, and it certainly wouldn’t have slotted an undefeated team behind two one-loss contenders.
Thus, one can argue the biggest beneficiary of this year’s shift from the BCS to the CFP is Oregon, which likely wouldn’t have had a chance to compete for a title if the playoff field was still restricted to two teams.
It’s also worth noting the BCS simulation placed the same four teams atop its rankings as the selection committee, although the order of those teams varies.
If the BCS formula still determined the playoff teams at the end of each year, it would have chosen the same four squads as the subjective selection committee, somewhat reducing the controversy surrounding this year’s bracket.
It appears the lack of a conference championship game harmed Big 12 contenders Baylor and TCU just as much in the BCS rankings as it did in the selection committee’s collective opinion, which reinforces the committee’s decision to jump Ohio State over both the Bears and Horned Frogs.
Although the committee’s final playoff field did not differ from the BCS top 4 nearly as much as most expected, the process in deciding the top 4 changed tremendously. Whether you agree with TCU’s exclusion from the top 4 or not, the BCS would never have dropped an 11-1 team three spots from one week to the next if that team won its most recent game by 52 points as TCU did Saturday.
The selection committee took a week-by-week approach, while the BCS normally compiled its data from week to week in determining the worth of each team. It could be argued, as a result, that TCU is the biggest loser in this year’s shift from the BCS to the CFP.
The method of selecting the playoff field, and the size of the field itself, may be new in 2014. Nevertheless, controversy and chaos continue to reign supreme at the end of another college football regular season.